G8 Environment Ministers' Meeting in 2000
G-8 Environment and Transport Futures Forum
Chatham House, London, 17-18 February 1998

Meeting Summary


At the 1996 Cabourg Ministerial, G-7 Environment Ministers agreed that early identification of future challenges and problems would lead to more effective management of the environment. In furtherance of this objective, delegations from the G-8 countries and the European Commission met at Chatham House, London to discuss the long-range environmental implications of possible future directions in transport.


The Forum recognised that all citizens require and deserve a level of mobility to achieve their full potential. Current forms of passenger and freight transport rely almost exclusively upon burning of fossil fuels with the consequent pollution and energy dependence. The dual pressures of increased num-ber of vehicles and increased use of each vehicle are overtaking technological advances to control pollu-tion. In addition, new technologies which have been effective in controlling conventional pollutants have not addressed CO2 emissions. The problem of climate change means that particular emphasis is needed on measures to reduce environmental im-pacts from transport, which is the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gases. Technology improve-ments aimed at making transport more efficient and less polluting have a vital part to play, but they alone will not provide a solution. Environmental sustainability also will require close attention to transport demand and infrastructure.

The G-8 Futures Forum has concluded that current trends in transport and technological innovation will deliver further improvements in local air quality from now to the first decade or two of the next century, if combined with appropriate fiscal or regulatory measures. However, additional measures are already needed, and will become more urgent in subsequent years, to achieve the goals outlined in Kyoto and to address impacts on land use, habitats, noise and the urban environment. In the long term, fundamentally new transport technologies must be found, combined with a successful effort to decouple transport growth from economic growth.


The Forum recommends that G-8 Environment and Transport Ministers, in close consultation with the public:

  • undertake research on environment and transport relationships, including behavioural factors;
  • examine how best to integrate environment and transport policies; and
  • establish a best practices programme on environment and transport issues among the G-8 countries.


Meeting Summary


Session 1- Opening Plenary Discussion: Future Trends in Transport

Session 2 - Discussion Groups: Environmental Implications of Future Trends

Group A: Infrastructure
Group B: Technology and Innovation
Group C: Transport Demand

Session 3 - Closing Plenary: Conclusions and Next Steps


List of Participants

G-8 Environment and Transport Futures Forum

Chatham House, London, 17-18 February 1998


At the 1996 Cabourg Ministerial, G-7 Environment Ministers agreed that early identification of future challenges and problems will lead to more effective management of the environment. In April 1997, the United States hosted the first G-8 environmental futures forum. Delegations comprised of senior environmental policy makers, scientists, and repre-sentatives from industry and non-governmental organisations, joined by a panel of experts on future trends, discussed the early indicators of change and the emerging environmental issues of the twenty--first century. The meeting ended with a strong, positive evaluation of the benefits of international co-operation in the field of environmental futures and a recommendation for sector-focused discussion of the key forces shaping the future.

In furtherance of this objective, delegations from the G-8 countries and the European Commission met at the Royal Institute of International Affairs/Chatham House, London on 17-18 February 1998 to discuss the environmental implications of transport sector trends. Many of the participants had taken part in the first environmental futures forum and others represented transport agencies in their respective countries. The forum consisted of three sessions:

  • an opening plenary on future trends in transport
  • small group discussions on environmental implica-tions of future trends, focusing on infrastructure, technology and innovation, and transport demand
  • a closing plenary on conclusions and next steps

The results of the meeting are summarised below without attribution to individual participants. The source of statistical references is the OECD unless otherwise indicated.

Session 1- Opening Plenary Discussion: Future Trends in Transport
Transport Trends

Transport is a means to an end: getting people, products and information where they need to go. Societies need to encourage forms of transport that fulfil this mission without harming the environment.

On average in OECD countries, transport represents 4-8 percent of GDP, 15 per cent of household expenditure and 2-4 per cent of employment. De-mand for personal mobility and movement of freight is increasing in all sectors of the economy.

The motorised road vehicle fleet in OECD countries currently stands at more than 500 million vehicles, and represents more than 80 percent of the global vehicle fleet. From 1990-2010, this vehicle stock is projected to increase by 44 per cent, vehicle--kilometres travelled (VKT) by 46 per cent, and fuel use by 21 percent. In the rest of the world, growth is predicted to be higher than in OECD countries, with both motor vehicle population and VKT pre-dicted to more than double over this period. Private motor cars account for about two thirds of all ve-hicles used.

Air transport is the fastest-growing part of the sector. Since 1960, air passenger travel has expanded at 9 percent per year while air freight has grown 11 percent annually. In Europe, more kilometres are now travelled in aeroplanes than in trains. Rapid growth is expected to continue in the medium term, especially in Asia and the Americas.

There is widespread acceptance that the transport policy agenda is heavily influenced by the environ-mental impacts of the sector, including impacts on climate, land use, habitats, noise, and the urban environment. Early identification of transport -related environmental problems will enable them to be addressed more efficiently and effectively while mitigating adverse impacts on human health and safety, ecosystems and the economy.

Underlying Factors

Key factors underlying transport trends include globalisation of trace and investment, just-in-time manufacturing, demand for products requiring high--speed delivery, deregulation of transport sectors, growth of service industries, and low density resi-dential patterns (sprawl).

There is a general shift toward high value-added products and trace in intermediate goods rather than final goods, which depend on fast transport, espe-cially air transport. Just-in-Time manufacturing and delivery also boost the demand for fast transport. Airline deregulation has increased air traffic by lowering the cost.

Public expectations of a high degree of mobility lead to support for road construction, which encourages more trips. Increased wealth is associated with desires for increased health, but this often takes the form of added consumption (e.g., driving to the gym) rather than lifestyle change (e.g., routine walking or cycling).

Rising car use has contributed to a population shift from city centres to suburbs and rural areas. Shop-ping centres, educational facilities and other services increasingly are located out of town, so fewer trips are suited to public transport, walking or cycling. Lower population densities and decentralisation reflect declining household size due to factors such as teenagers leaving home, rising divorce rates, and ageing populations. Public transport fares have risen faster than the cost of using cars, although the cost of public transport varies between countries, mainly due to policy interventions. The low marginal cost of car and truck use leads to these modes dominat-ing.

The growing number of double-income households encourages longer commutes as families compro-mise on home and work locations. As employment becomes less secure, people commute further when they get a job. As people habitually drive, non-car alternatives are seen as complex and hard to find out about, so good information about transport options becomes more crucial.

In the US, only 20 percent of car trips are work -related; more research is needed into how to deal with the remaining 80 percent of trips. In the UK, a growing source of car trips is escorting children to school, partly due to parents' concern about security risks of unescorted journeys. The UK government is explicitly encouraging greater use of alternatives to the car in children's journeys to school through 'Safe Routes to School' projects.

Sustainable Transport

The OECD defines sustainable transport as transport that "does not endanger public health and ecosystems and meets needs for access to people, goods and services consistent with a) use of renewable resources at below their rate of regeneration, and b) use of non-renewable resources at below the rate of development of renewable substitutes."