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How to cut oil use in Europe’s regions

By Platform
Cycle lane next to the coast

On 24 January, the Policy Learning Platform organised an online workshop on how to reduce oil use in Europe's regions. 

Europe currently faces energy price challenges, arising from Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and regions across the continent are examining ways to reduce dependence on imported energy and bring prices down for citizens.

Active transport, shared mobility systems, company mobility management, and restricting car access, for example, can be considered high-impact measures to reduce oil demand and are fast to implement, and are being used in many regions.

This workshop examined the International Energy Agency’s plan to reduce oil use in mobility, and good practices from Interreg Europe projects for responding to the crisis. 

Webinar agenda

Moderation and concept by Katharina Krell and Simon Hunkin, Thematic Experts on Low carbon economy.

04:27 Introduction to the topic by Katharina Krell and Simon Hunkin

08:37  Keynote speech by Leonie Stass from the International Energy Agency on a 10-point plan to cut oil use 

24:04 Panel discussion around the keynote speech

Presentations on Mobility Measures from Projects

55:18 Presentation by Jaanus Tamm on Tartu bike and cargo bike sharing (OptiTrans)

1:06:11 Presentation by Elena Farca on towards Carbon-Free Mobility in Iasi (CLEAN)

1:15:51 Presentation by José Augusto Vieira on shared spaces in the city center of Funchal for active mobility (MATCH-UP)

1:24:35 Presentation by Asa Forss on mobility management in private companies

1:34:04 Presenation by Brian Masson on virtual agency to meet all mobility demands with existing resources (CISMOB, PriMaaS)


Explore the presentations and get inspired.

Key learnings

The global energy market has been heavily disrupted firstly as a result of post-COVID recovery, and secondly by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

In particular, oil and gas markets have been affected, and are requiring policy interventions to help manage prices.

  • In gas, which is primarily used for heating, many states are focused on subsidising households and capping prices.
  • In oil, mostly used in the transport sector, attention has been focused on reducing transport use and encouraging a shift towards public transport.

Several high-profile interventions have been made at national levels, such as:

  • discounted train tickets in Germany,
  • reduced public transport costs in Spain and Ireland,
  • travel subsidies in Italy.

However, there is significant scope to do more, particularly at regional and municipal levels which can respond to regional specificities. Indeed, the crisis, much like COVID, also provides an opportunity to make bold policy moves.

Shortly after the invasion of Ukraine, the International Energy Agency released its 10-Point Plan to Cut Oil Use, with a variety of measures proposed which could minimise the number of travels or encourage a shift to low-carbon measures.

The IEA calculated that these actions could reduce oil use by 2.7 million barrels a day in the four months after the report was published. However, the measures should not be considered as short-term only, but as also acting towards long-term decarbonisation goals;

Working interactively, the workshop classified the ten measures into those of regional, municipal, national and private-sector competence. The aim was to see where regions and municipalities could take the initiative.

Several measures were recognised as being for all, or multiple levels:

  • Reducing speed limits on highways by at least 10km/h – National and Regional
  • Working from home up to three days a week – National, Municipal, and Private
  • Car-free Sundays in cities – Regional and Municipal
  • Making public transport cheaper, incentivising micro-mobility, walking and cycling – All levels
  • Alternating private car use in large cities – National and municipal
  • Urging car sharing and practices that decrease fuel use – Municipal and National
  • Promoting efficient use of freight trucks and goods delivery – All levels
  • Preferring high-speed and night trains to planes where possible – All levels
  • Avoiding business travel when alternatives exist – All levels
  • Hastening adoption of electric and more efficient vehicles – All levels

Around a third of participants noted that new actions had been implemented in their regions as a response to the energy crisis.

Good practices were collected from the audience to see what was happening in regions across Europe.

Participants noted practices related to:

  • speed reduction and pedestrianisation in cities,
  • working from home practices, car-free days and weekends,
  • free public transport passes,
  • bike and cargo bike subsidies,
  • installation of new bike lanes, 
  • introduction of corporate policies for carsharing and travel policies that avoid air travel.

Five practices were pitched to the participants, gathered from the Interreg community. These practices were rated to determine how fast and easy they could be to implement;

  • Tartu has implemented a bike and cargo bike sharing scheme, with automated lending points in the city for bike pick-up, and an online booking system. Feedback from users has been positive, with cargo bikes mostly used to replace cars.
  • Funchal, Madeira, has created shared spaces for active mobility with priority for active transport and a low-speed limit for cars and removal of parking spaces. The practice integrated social, mobility and urban regeneration policy to increase community liveability.
  • In Kronoberg, Sweden, a programme has been introduced for mobility management in private companies. First, commuting and business travel behaviour is investigated to determine the base level, and then plans are developed for individual companies to implement to improve staff transport.
  • The FAMS Multi-Modal Virtual Agency aims to develop demand-responsive transport and create a flexible agency that can optimise public transport and respond to customer need through a true multi-stakeholder business model, resulting in reduced car use.
  • Iasi, in Romania, is implementing a comprehensive sustainable mobility strategy including traffic management, promotion of cycling, pedestrianisation, the introduction of clean buses and the creation of a new bus depot, powered by photovoltaics and heat pumps.

The workshop discussed the Key Performance Indicators related to the practices, including modal split, number of public transport users, reduced emissions per person and per kilometre, and reduced road accidents. Key messages include that:

  • Different types of KPIs should be gathered and used for different purposes.
  • To evaluate measures in terms of progress towards carbon neutrality and energy independence, reduced emissions per person and kilometre travelled were found to be one of the most optimal KPIs because it allows both for comparing different measures and for capturing the reduction in fuel use.
  • To motivate and convince citizens, KPIs related to reduced pollution and noise, improved health and happiness and money saved by users are most suitable.
  • To motivate and convince companies and traders, KPIs related to economic benefits work best
  • Data collection issues are often hampering the better collection of impact evidence.
  • User surveys ex-post, both shortly after the introduction of a new measure and one year after, are good tools to get insight into impacts and use satisfaction where more systematic KPI collection is not possible.

Policy measures need to be introduced in line with existing strategies and be reinforced.

For example, if limiting car access, better public transport, micro-mobility and walkability are needed to provide an alternative.

Get policy advise

Public authorities should take advantage of opportunities to learn from other regions which have already begun the transition, through Interreg Europe projects and the Policy Learning Platform which can offer on-demand expert support through peer reviews and matchmakings.

Public transport
Sustainable mobility