Environmental impact of traffic

The environment is used in many ways for transport purposes. A sustainable transport policy enables mobility and minimizes environmental impact.

 

Traffic requires space

The floor space used for traffic is steadily increasing. In 1992, the traffic area covered 16,441 square kilometers (km²) or 4.61 percent (%) of the total surface area of ​​Germany. In 2015 it was 18,108 km² or 5.07%. Thus, the traffic area grew by about 10% between 1992 and 2015. In 2001, 22 hectares (ha) were used daily for transport purposes, in 2015 it was 10 hectares per day.

 

These data are taken from the official statistics of the floor area according to the type of actual use. In 2016, the data basis of the Automatic Real Estate Register (ALB) was changed to the Automatic Real Estate Cadastre Information System (ALKIS), which also resulted in changes in the catalog of types of use. Therefore, the figures for 2016 are only comparable to those of previous years. Accordingly, the traffic area in 2016, at 18,029 km², accounted for about 5.04% of the surface area of ​​Germany (see Fig. “Traffic area”). The decline compared to 2015 is likely to be due to statistical effects of the changeover.

 

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A diagram shows the development of the traffic area. In 1992, the traffic area covered 16,441 square kilometers, or 4.61 percent of Germany’s total floor area. In 2016, it was 18,029 square kilometers, or 5.04 percent of the total floor area.

 

Traffic consumes energy

 

Results for the total primary energy consumption of the transport sector on the basis of traffic costs and specific energy consumption are available in the calculation model TREMOD (Transport Emission Model) of the Federal Environmental Agency.

 

In 2017, the total primary energy consumption of the transport sector was 3,363 petajoules (PJ) (see figure “Development of total primary energy consumption in the transport sector”). That was about a quarter of the total primary energy consumption in Germany. The development since 1995 was uneven. At first, total energy consumption increased by 6.3% (%) between 1995 and 2001. In the following years the energy demand fluctuated considerably. Since 2013, it has been rising steadily, reaching a peak in 2017. Primary energy consumption was thus 12.6% higher than in 1995.

 

Passenger transport accounts for around 70% of the total primary energy consumption of the transport sector. Between 1995 and 2017, consumption increased by around 5%. This was due to the increase in energy consumption in air transport (+ 70%). The energy consumption of road transport remained almost constant (+ 0.1%), that of rail transport fell by 28.6% (see Fig. “Development of primary energy consumption in passenger transport”).

 

Freight transport accounts for around 30% of total transport-related primary energy consumption. Between 1995 and 2017, consumption increased by around 35%. The increase in air traffic was particularly strong (+ 90%). In road transport too, primary energy consumption increased, while it decreased in rail and inland waterway transport.

Road freight accounted for the majority of primary energy consumption, accounting for 82% in 2017. 12% were accounted for by aviation. Rail and inland waterway transport accounted for 3.5% and 2.4% respectively (see Fig. “Development of primary energy consumption in freight transport”). Maritime shipping is not included in these calculations.

 

An important component of sustainable transport is the efficient use of energy in the form of the final energy sources diesel, gasoline, kerosene and electricity. Information on this can be found in the article “Final energy consumption and energy efficiency of transport”.

 

In 2017, the total primary energy consumption of the transport sector was 3,363 petajoules. That was about a quarter of the total primary energy consumption in Germany.

Development of total primary energy consumption in the transport sector

Passenger transport needs around 70 percent of the total primary energy consumption of the transport sector. Between 1995 and 2017, consumption increased by around 5 percent.
Development of primary energy consumption in passenger transport

Freight transport requires around 30 percent of all traffic-related primary energy consumption. Between 1995 and 2017, consumption increased by around 35 percent.
Development of primary energy consumption in freight transport

Traffic pollutes the air and the climate

The emission of air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, NMVOC, particulate matter or carbon monoxide from the transport sector has fallen since 1990. In recent years, the decline in emissions levels off.

 

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