Covered environmental impacts of transports
Transportation has various impacts on the environment, such as the consumption of resources, land use, greenhouse effect, depletion of the ozone layer, acidification, eutrophication, eco- and human toxicity (toxic effects on ecosystems/on humans), summer smog and noise. Whereas many environmental accounting tools only focus on the impact of the greenhouse gas CO2, EcoTransIT takes into account other emissions that often form a pre-stage of ozone and summer smog. Besides, EcoTransIT includes energy consumption in its calculation, as resources are limited. Although the categories land use and noise are not taken into consideration, EcoTransIT has focused on all the key air quality issues.
This table displays a summary of the environmental impacts of the pollutants that are taken into account by EcoTransIT.
|Abb.||Environmental parameter||Environmental impacts|
|PEC||Primary energy consumption||Main indicator for resource consumption|
|CO2||Carbon dioxide emissions||Main indicator for greenhouse effect|
|CO2e||Greenhouse gas emissions as CO2-equivalent. CO2e is calculated as follows (mass weighted):
CO2e = CO2 + 25*CH4+298*N2O
For aircraft transport the additional impact of flights in high distances can optionally be included (based on RFI factor)
|NOX||Nitrogen oxide emissions||Eutrophication, smog, eco-toxicity, human toxicity|
|SO2||Sulphor dioxide emissions||Acidification, eco-toxicity, human toxicity|
|NMHC||Non-methane hydrocarbons||Human toxicity, smog|
|PM10||Exhaust particulate matter from vehicles and from energy production and provision (power plants, refineries, sea transport of primary energy carriers), in EcoTransIT World particles are quantified as PM10||Human toxicity, smog|
Primary energy consumption is the key indicator for the consumption of energy resources. Not only does it include the energy consumption caused directly by the vehicle, but also the processes involved in the generation and distribution of final energy. This is the only way to create a truly comparative basis between the various modes of transport with different forms of energy supply and use (e.g. diesel or electric power). The estimation also takes into account the specific character of combined energy sources for each country considered in the system.
Carbon dioxide is the dominant greenhouse gas worldwide. Transport is the only sector in the EU in which CO2 emissions have risen in the last few years. In addition, it is the main greenhouse gas in terms of emitted volume and noxiousness to humans and to the environment. It serves as a reference in computing impacts and formulating results.
Nitrogen oxides (NOX) contribute mainly to the fertilisation of the subsoil and groundwater. The degradation process, called Eutrophication, accelerates the transformation of aquatic content. Moreover, NOx emissions are partly responsible for ground level ozone and thus for summer smog.
Sulphur dioxide the main cause of forest dieback and the acidification of subsoil and groundwater. Sulphur dioxide can also lead to respiratory diseases.
Hydrocarbons Hydrocarbons break down into methane and non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC). Methane is a greenhouse gas of minor importance in the transportation sector. Therefore, it is negligible in computing environmental impacts. The combined effects of non-methane hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides contribute to the formation of stratospheric ozone and are responsible for smog.
Particals are a severe health hazard. Soot particulates, which are produced by diesel combustion, are now regarded as a cancer risk to humans. They represent the major component of the total dust emissions from diesel vehicles. In contrast, the dust emissions of electrically-powered vehicles are produced entirely during power generation and distribution. While dust emissions are dissipated into the atmosphere at great height (for example through power plant stacks), the distance covered by airborne diesel soot particulates from their source of emission to the human being is much shorter.