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TUD COST Action 356
Towards the definition of a measurable environmentally sustainable transport (EST)

The main objective of the Action is to design harmonised and scientifically sound methods to build better environmental indices (or indicators) by using existing European indices, and to build methods to be applied to the decision-making process of the transport sector in the different European countries. The Action would appear to present the possibility for two European standards (or perhaps CEN Workshop Agreements): 1. A measurement standard on common methodologies for assessing the environmental impacts of transport (e.g. in terms of noise, air pollution, resource use); 2. A standard using environmental criteria to define what could be claimed as "Environmentally Sustainable Transport" (Euronorm). Secondary objectives are: - To assemble scientific knowledge of different disciplines and countries through discussion forums and congresses and by facilitating common research projects and exchange of scientists and contributing to a systemic culture of the transport and environment community. - To disseminate knowledge of environmentally sustainable assessment methods in the direction of the decision-makers, consultants, the public, and the new EU Member States, especially by high level teaching (capacity building through seminars, workshops and stakeholder involvement). This Action is mainly aimed at integrating and communicating European knowledge in the assessment of the environmentally sustainable aspects of transport technologies and policies, contributing to a systemic approach to environmental and transportation issues and the realization of environmental policy integration. It is recognised that this investigation accommodates developments in transport infrastructure and policy, combined with an integration of relevant national and international drivers including emission legislation, air and water quality legislation, energy policy, waste management, life cycle analysis, biodiversity and quality of life, spatial and land use planning, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). In order to develop environmentally sustainable transport systems and means of transport, as well as making transport safer and more efficient, research on development of advanced methods for impact assessment and methods for appraising the environmental quality are needed. The collection and analysis of better and more genuinely comparable data is possible only after the co-ordinated development of qualitative and quantitative indicators and methods. The Action will help these needs to be met, and at the same time to improve the generation, distribution and use of knowledge and its impact, providing the basis for policy formulation and decision making. The Action will concentrate on the environmental field, because much interdisciplinary scientific work is needed, in order to build representative indices of a range or different environmental impacts, and to develop a comprehensive method to aggregate these impacts. As such an approach is a part of the sustainable development approach, the Action takes into account the present debates on the concept of sustainable development, but does not enrich this debate, except concerning the environment. In this COST Action, the ambitions are limited to the purely scientific aspects dealing with the assessment of the environmental sub-impacts or impacts, and the decision-making process, trying to take into account non-scientific aspects with scientific methods, beside the network building and the dissemination. This Action is highly relevant as countries and, at times, even research institutes, explore separately paths towards sustainable transport, failing to adopt good practices identified in other states or results from previous European research projects. Such good practices may be associated with individual prediction techniques, with the aggregation of data or with the involvement of decision-makers at key stages in the assessment process. Furthermore, some countries are not involved in the process of developing these paths. The final users of the Action's deliverables will be decision-makers, transport economists and consultants performing strategic environmental assessment or comparing transport alternatives, as well as forecasting (or back-casting) analysts of the impact of the transport system, and the bodies for which such studies are made. As a single example, the Action should produce a state-of-the-art analysis concerning the different aspects of the atmospheric pollution (perceived pollution - odours and fumes, health effects, photochemical smog, acid rain, greenhouse effect, etc), in order to design indices specific to each subimpact, then to aggregate these indices into a global index representative of the air pollution. In some cases, this requires a limited number of scientific disciplines, e.g. to weight the contribution of different greenhouse gases to a single indicator (Global Warming Potential or GWP). In other cases, many more scientific disciplines and models are required, e.g. to estimate the health impacts of air pollutants, which require integrated assessment of dispersion modelling, personal exposure, health and epidemiologic sciences... The final result will be a complex function of a number of technical and socio-economic parameters, with a different range of uncertainty. Uncertainty can be linked to a lack of adequate measurements, or to lack of understanding the relationships among variables. For that, purely scientific data and knowledge have to be used, as already made to design the Global Warming Potential by weighting the emissions of the different pollutants involved. Parallel indices should be proposed for the perceived pollution, health effects, etc. The aggregation of all these indices needs to take into account other types of data and knowledge which are not scientific, as the relative importance of short and long term impacts, or more generally the way the stakeholders do their choice. Although these data are not scientific, the methods to take them into account have to be scientific - this is the field of the research on decision-making processes. With the exception of GWP, there is a lack of consensus on how to integrate atmospheric pollution assessment into a general index. The situation is nearly the same for the other environmental impacts and, globally, for "the" environmental impact.

(Descriptions are provided by the Actions directly via e-COST.)

General Information*

Chair of the Action:

Dr Robert JOUMARD (FR)

Vice Chair of the Action:


Science officer of the Action:

Dr Mickael PERO

Administrative officer of the Action:

Ms Carmencita MALIMBAN


Action Fact Sheet

Download AFS as .RTF

Memorandum of Understanding

Download MoU as PDF

Progress Report

Download Progress Report as PDF

Final Report

Download Final Report as PDF


Download Poster as PDF


Action website:

* content provided by e-COST.
Data is synchronised once per night.


Last updated: 02 May 2011 top of page