Blog Post

CountEmissionsEU: transparent transport emissions for all?

Last week, the European Commission presented its ‘Greening transport package’,  including a law that should help passengers to find more consistent information about the emissions impact of their travel, the so-called CountEmissionsEU proposal.

Until now, information on CO2 emissions is publicly available for some transport modes and routes, but there is no harmonized calculation methodology. This makes it difficult for customers to accurately compare options as the CO2 calculation constantly varies between transport operators or booking/comparison platforms.

For instance, when looking for a direct flight from Frankfurt to Barcelona, the reported CO2 emissions for the same connection are 95kg on Google Flights and 113kg on These discrepancies make a fair comparison of different options more difficult, without even speaking of accessing accurate information across modes (e.g. rail vs. air).

The CountEmissionsEU initiative could radically change the situation, as it aims to harmonise how CO2 emissions of transport services are calculated. This proposal will make mandatory the use of the ISO 14083:2023 standard in the calculation of CO2 emissions, which is an already widely used international calculation method. The Commission specified that a ‘well-to-wheel’ approach will be taken to capture emissions necessary for fuel production, distribution, and emissions produced by the movement of the transport modes. This should give travelers the full picture.

However, a harmonized methodology is only useful if it is used widely in practice, which is where the CountEmissionsEU framework has its limitations. The Commission chose to adopt an opt-in approach, meaning the common framework applies only if an operator chooses to calculate and disclose information on emissions. The problem is that most operators rarely display their CO2 emissions to travelers upfront during the booking process. Booking/comparison platforms on the other hand often push to display such information but would not have any right to receive CountEmissionsEU-compliant data from operators.

The proposal would only be truly ambitious if it obligates all operators to display and share their CO2 emissions data. This approach would fit neatly into the current discussions on how to ease the booking of multimodal travel under the upcoming Multimodal Digital Mobility Services (MDMS) Regulation.

With the Commission’s proposal, it is now up to the Parliament and the Council to raise the bar on emissions transparency in passenger transport.