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III Workshop on Transport Economics: technological improvements and impact payments – the keys to reducing the environmental effects of transport


Reducing the environmental problems attributable to transport requires a combination of measures that include impact payments to cover external effects and technological improvements. This is one of the conclusions reached by expert researchers in Transport Economics at the III Workshop on Transport Economics (27 May, Barcelona), organized by the Barcelona Economics Institute and the Fedea-Abertis Chair. At the meeting, experts analysed the environmental problems caused by the transport sector from a variety of perspectives, but with a particular emphasis on problems associated with road and air transport. They also discussed the effectiveness of each of the instruments available for reducing the environmental impact of transport, as well as their effects on welfare.

A further conclusion reached by experts at the workshop is that measures aimed at reducing local environmental impacts are in practice more effective than those aimed at solving global impacts, such as climate change, where the lack of progress in the implementation of international agreements reveals the difficulties in enforcing the commitment of the signatories to respect their obligations.

Aviation and Emissions
A further conclusion drawn from the meeting is that measures designed to remedy environmental problems can have undesired impacts on other aspects of the market. An example of this are the adverse effects that an emission trading scheme in the airline industry can have on the level of competition in the airline market, as it may permit established companies to develop strategies aimed at blocking the entry of new competitors.

The difficulties associated with the EU’s Emission Trading Scheme were highlighted at the roundtable discussion held at the end of the Workshop, dedicated specifically to the airline industry. The debate provided insights into the points of view of the airlines themselves, as well as those of market operators, and government and specialist consultants. The speakers identified the main problems as being both regulatory uncertainty and the different treatment received by airlines on international routes. It should be recalled that the scheme for non-EU flights has been temporarily suspended pending a proposal from the ICAO (the United Nations’ body responsible for civil aviation) for a broad-based mechanism that can be applied to the control of emissions.

The participants at the III Workshop on Transport Economics included the following internationally renowned experts: Stef Proost (Catholic University of Leuven), Xavier Labandeira (University of Vigo), David Banister (University of Oxford), Emilio Padilla (UAB), Pilar Socorro (University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria) and Gustavo Nombela (Complutense University of Madrid). 

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