Do policies in the CEE region efficiently target emissions reduction in the transport sector? Consequences for mobility accessibility, public transport development and mobility poverty

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Brussels (2023)


automotive transition, Central and Eastern Europe, mobility poverty, policies, sustainability


The transport sector is responsible for one-third of EU emissions, which rose by 33.5% between 1990 and 2020. The main driving factor was the increased demand for individual mobility of passengers, which grew by 16% between 2000 and 2019. Discussions about policies related to switching to electromobility in the automotive sector are dominated by the technical problems associated with infrastructure, resources and employment changes (Goods et al., 2015; Kreinin, 2020; Gažo et al., 2021). Still, deeper challenges related to the sustainability of individual mobility are not addressed in public policies, even though it is evident that a simple change of ICE cars to EVs will not be sufficient in terms of sustainability concerns and environmental impacts.

In the CEE countries, the emissions from fuel combustion cars increased by 80% between 2000 and 2020, while in the rest of the EU countries, emissions from cars decreased by 22%. Nevertheless, CEE countries were catching up the individual mobility patterns similar to western Europe, resulting in equal emissions shares to the rest of the EU. Some CEE countries, however, increased their emissions significantly; in Slovakia, for instance, the share of individual mobility on all transport emissions increased from 50 to 70% in just 20 years. Other CEE countries experienced lower but still positive increases.

Member states in the CEE region still need to promote policies to support the reduction of CO2 emissions from transport. They mostly rely on the switch to electromobility, but this will be considerably delayed because of low purchase power to buy electric vehicles and the slower pace of infrastructure development. The expected introduction of the ETS2 mechanism, which will also include transportation, will decrease GHG emissions but negatively affect mobility accessibility, especially in the CEE region with a considerably older car fleet and, thus, less energy-efficient cars owned by individuals. The policies should address the slow replacement rate of EVs and the deterioration of access to mobility for specific groups of population policies to prevent the rise in mobility poverty in the CEE countries.

The article analyses the policy approaches set in each EU country's National Energy and Climate Plans focusing on transport policies. For this purpose, the European Commission (2020) assessments will be primarily used, along with other analyses available. This will be compared to projections analysing needed GHG emissions reductions in the transport sector to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 in specific CEE countries. The emphasis of analysis will be given to the discussions about alternative modes of transportation, especially on the improvements of accessibility of active and public transport.

Using the relevant policy documents targeting climate change at the national level and comparing it with the prognosed reduction of GHG emissions in transportation, we aim to assess the level of discrepancy between the expected amount of yielded reduction of emissions, compared to the required amounts needed to reach EU carbon neutrality targets. For example, the Slovak Climate act targets a 29 % emissions increase from transportation by 2030, while a 20 % reduction is needed to reach carbon neutrality by 2030 (Klimatická koalícia, 2023).
The analysis will address the concept of mobility poverty. Mobility poverty encompasses the individual’s need for mobility as a factor of inclusion into society. At the same time promotes transportation sustainability, thus emphasising the need for shared mobility and public transport accessibility (Sheller, 2020). Therefore, within mobility poverty concept policies should go beyond the support of individual mobility via cars, supporting the sustainability of transport systems as such.

The article will propose a concept for assessing policies contributing to emissions reduction and mitigating mobility poverty. The following attributes are suggested when assessing sustainability policies in transportation systems (tentative): active and public transport investment, travel demand management, carbon price regulation, and electric vehicle purchases support (Hassan et al., 2020). By assessing emission reduction policies concerning the following criteria, we aim to provide insights into individual mobility sector development perspectives and also question the sustainability and efficiency of electromobility switches as the only measure to reduce emissions in the transport sector.

Gažo, P., Martišková, M., & Smith, T. S. (2022). The transformation of the Slovak and Czech automotive industries: stakeholders' perspectives and barriers towards an ecological mobility industry. International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management, 22(2), 202-221.

Goods, C., Rainnie, A. and Fitzgerald, S. (2015) ‘Ecological modernisation, industry policy and the Australian automotive industry, 2007–13’, Australian Journal of Political Science, Vol. 50,
pp. 93–113,

Hasan, M. A., Chapman, R., & Frame, D. J. (2020). Acceptability of transport emissions reduction policies: A multi-criteria analysis. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, p. 133, 110298.

Kreinin, H. (2020). Typologies of ‘Just Transitions’: Towards Social-Ecological Transformation, Ecological Economic Papers, No. 35, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna.

Klimatická koalícia (2023). Briefing note on the Climate Act proposal.

Sheller, M. (2020). A mobility justice lens on mobility poverty. Re-thinking Mobility Poverty: Understanding Users' Geographies, Backgrounds and Aptitudes

European Commission (2020). Assessments of NECPs: and

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