Private Vehicle and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Spain: A War Without Winner

Francesc Clar and Roberto Alvarez

Abstract The region of Madrid, which includes the capital and surrounding towns, has increased the number of private vehicles up to almost 4 million cars in 2016, plus about a million trucks, motorcycles and vans. Current situation in Barcelona is similar, with up to 2.5 million cars. Both countries (two of the most urbanized cities in Spain) have begun thinking about taking drastic steps to reduce car exhaust pollution. In fact, in 2016 some actions (insufficient and unpopular) have already been carried out. It can be said that a war against pollution has begun. Will there be winners? And how have they come to this limit situation? This work tries to show the evolution of greenhouse gas emissions in these representative countries, including factors as urbanism and economic crisis.


Every day, citizens of urban cities breathe an atmosphere whose concentration on harmful particles has grown dramatically and uncontrollably throughout the Twentieth century. Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) used in cars, trucks, ships, trains and planes mostly burn petroleum based fossil fuels and strongly contribute to global warming and air pollution. ICE emits different gases and particles included in the well-known. Greenhouse Gases (GHG). In order to use a standard unit that express the impact of each different particle emissions in terms of the amount of CO2 that would create the same effects, an emitting source that includes many different greenhouse gases is commonly expressed as a single number (CO2eq). Conversion of the various gases into equivalent amounts of CO2 is based in the Global Warming Potential (GWP), which describes the impact of each

F. Clar (H)

Electric Vehicle (Z.E), Renault Group, Madrid, Spain e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

R. Alvarez

Department of Engineering, Universidad Nebrija, Madrid, Spain e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

R. Alvarez Fernandez et al. (eds.), Carbon Footprint and the Industrial Life Cycle, Green Energy and Technology, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-54984-2_7

greenhouse gas relative to CO2. The weighting factors currently used are the following: carbon dioxide = 1, methane = 25, nitrous oxide = 298, and sulphur hexafluoride = 22,800.

Figure 1 shows the global distribution of direct emissions by economic sectors, showing that the transport sector produced 7.0 GtCO2eq of direct GHG emissions (including non-CO2 gases) in 2010 and hence was responsible for approximately 23% of total energy-related CO2 emissions (IPCC 2015) (Figs. 2 and 3).

Looking at European Union, in 2014, greenhouse gas emissions in the EU-28 were down by 22.9% compared with 1990 levels, near to surpass its 2020 Kyoto Protocol target, which is to reduce GHG emissions by 20% by 2020 and by 40% by 2030 compared with 1990 (Eurostat 2016).

The Kyoto Protocol represented the most important global environmental international agreement ever. In fact, the Kyoto Protocol (adopted in Kyoto on December 11th, 1997 and went into force on February 16th, 2005) was a mandatory call for states to work together on a various environmental standards focusing in the reduction of pollution. In order to achieve Kyoto protocol targets, the EU agreed that average of emissions from new passenger cars should not exceed 120 g of CO2 per km by 2012 (Directive 93/116/EC). Nevertheless, in 2005, the European parliament replaced the voluntary commitments for mandatory since major automakers figures were unsatisfactory. Later, in 2008, new schedule to phase in the CO2 emission standard with increasing percentage levels from 2012 to 2015 for the 130 g/km. By 2021 the fleet average to be achieved by all new cars is 95 g of CO2 per kilometre. This means a fuel consumption of 4.1 l/100 km of petrol or 3.6 l/100 km of diesel. The 2015 and 2021 targets represent reductions of 18 and 40% respectively compared with the 2007 fleet average of 158.7 g/km.

Fig. 1 Global greenhouse gas emissions

Greenhouse gas emissions comparison 1990 and 2014 in the EU-28

Fig. 2 Greenhouse gas emissions comparison 1990 and 2014 in the EU-28

Catalyst scheme

Fig. 3 Catalyst scheme

In the present study, the author’s ambition is to analyze the current situation of Spanish efforts in order to achieve a progressive decarbonization, focusing in two of the most urbanized cities in Spain: Madrid and Barcelona.

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