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Spain drives more efficiently during financial crisis : report

Source: Phys.Org - Wed 4th Mar 2015
Spain drives more efficiently during financial crisis : report

Thanks to the development of an analytical method, members of the Transport Research Centre (TRANSyT) from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) have established the main factors influencing the GHG emissions trends as a result of the road vehicle traffic in Spain. The results show that this type of transportation tends to be more efficient during crisis periods than in economically prosperous periods.

This study was conducted from 1990 to 2010 when researchers identified different periods according to relevant factors affecting CO2 emissions and other gases contributing to GHG. Spaniards purchased more cars in 1990 and consequently the emissions increased due to the growth rate of vehicles. Later, tax policies boosted the purchase of diesel vehicles due to lower prices and growth rate of purchasing power. This meant an increase of kilometers covered by road and the growth of vehicle rate what caused a steady increase of energy consumption and GHG emissions.

The financial crisis started in 2007, causing a fall in the transport activity and a greater energy efficiency of road transport. Since then, populations have adapted their behavior to real needs through a reduction of kilometers covered by car. This adaptation was caused by factors such as unemployment, lower incomes and new energy efficiency policies implemented since 2004, Plan E4. All this shows the inefficiency of road transport in economically prosperous periods and the importance of adopting suitable fiscal policies in order to reduce the carbon footprint.

Although this research was conducted in a specific place and at a certain time, the proposed methodology can be applied to many diverse cases and can be also useful for comparisons among countries. The analysis carried out in Spain provides relevant information that can help to define measures and strategies to take advantage of the recent decline of road transport demand. The recommended policies include bringing back the policies that encourage the purchase of smaller and more efficient vehicles in order to obtain a low carbon fleet. Other recommendations are the use of alternative means of transport and reducing car dependency, promoting efficient management strategies of traffic and infrastructures by using Information and communications technology (ICT).

This study, published in the Energy Policy journal, concluded that Spain has reached a crossroads that could mean a paradigm change in road transport.

Source :

Sobrino, N.; Monzón, A. (2014.) "The impact of the economic crisis and policy actions on GHG emissions from road transport in Spain". Energy Policy, 74, pp.486-498. DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2014.07.020

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