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Chemical industry key enabler for future EU transport sector


20 Jul 2016


Sustainable Dev.
Climate & Environment

Brussels, 20 July 2016 - The European Commission today published its strategy to decarbonise the EU transport sector. The strategy outlines three steps: efficiency in the transport system; low-emission alternative energy sources and low- and zero-emission vehicles.

Said Marco Mensink, Cefic Director General: “Decarbonising EU transport, whether for passenger or freight transport, will require innovative chemistry. Today, EU chemical companies already make lightweight composite material for vehicles to increase fuel efficiency. Our industry is also actively developing energy storage technology. We have identified ‘power to gas’ and ‘power to liquid’ as offering huge potential towards decarbonising transport. Moving beyond first generation fuels to advanced biofuels is another step change our sector can be part of. The EU chemical industry is a high tech industry that will invest in developing the necessary solutions and deploy them at industrial scale.”

Aside from the likely market opportunities for chemical companies the strategy paves the way for, Cefic looks to the European Commission to ensure it is consistent in its policymaking regarding second generation bio based fuels, which will be important for cutting greenhouse gases. After its initial strong push for first generation, food-based biofuels, the Commission then changed tack, which has depressed investment in the biofuels sector for the last years. Long-term certainty will be critical in order for investment decisions to support uptake of alternative fuels. We hope this strategy gives the needed confirmation of what the Commission expects from industry and from the second generation biofuels sector.

Also noteworthy in today’s strategy is the reference to digitalisation of transport – using technology to map and monitor transport flows would certainly help optimise transport in Europe, cutting emissions.

What will be needed to decarbonise EU transport?

  • Choose one major focus for technology investment rather than taking a fragmented regional investment approach, which risks solutions not coming to market
  • Engage industry not only for joint investment but for research projects as the chemical industry will invent and roll out the needed technology on an industrial scale
  • Increase investment in research for fuel solutions for passenger and heavy goods transport
  • Boost investment in infrastructure, especially rail-based heavy goods transport, which is key for reducing the number of trucks on the road. So-called ‘intermodal transport’ – using rail to shift chemicals long distance and then trucks for the last leg – is difficult in Europe due to a less than ideal infrastructure.
  • Increase the authorised maximum weight for EU freight, leading to fewer trucks on the road, and cutting traffic congestion and therefore GHG

Our own record on transport

Chemicals, like other goods, must be transported. Our industry - representing 10% of total EU freight emissions - works hard to cut the environmental impact of its logistics. We:

  • Make extensive use of ‘green’ transport modes: Road transport represents only 44% of the total chemical inland transport volume compared to 73% for the EU average. Barge (13%), rail (15 %) and intermodal road/rail (21%) transport play an important role in chemical inland logistics, significantly higher than the EU industry average
  • Support industry best practice: We provide guidance to members on how to identify further opportunities for improving the performance of freight transport operations from improving vehicle design, maintenance and operation, and promoting sustainable fuel use


Read our joint position paper with the European Chemical Transport Association (ECTA) for sustainable transport and logistic practices.

Media enquiries

Dervla Gleeson

Media Relations Manager

Tel. + 32.2.676.72.89 

Mobile + 32.492.461.558

About Cefic

Cefic – the EU chemical industry council – is the voice of the European chemical industry, employing over 1.2million people in Europe and contributing more than 550 billion Euros to the economy each year.


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