The United Nations Environment Programme says making walking and cycling safer is vital for reducing pollution and climate-changing emissions. A new UNEP report notes the contribution of road transport to global warming and air pollution, yet almost half the 1.3 million people who die each year in traffic accidents are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists – transport users who generate fewest emissions.
More than 65 countries have signed up to offset, but not reduce, aircraft emissions from international flights, starting in 2021. However, participation in the scheme until 2027 is voluntary and its coverage of emissions falls well short of the ‘carbon neutral growth in 2020’ target promised by UN aviation body ICAO and industry. The European Commission will now examine the agreement and decide what action to recommend be taken in light of the current suspension of the emissions trading system’s (ETS) coverage of flights into and out of Europe.
Campaigners in Poland believe they are close to persuading the government to expand the country’s road toll system for lorries. T&E’s Polish member Inspro is pushing for the existing system to become totally CO2-based – thereby discouraging the use of highly polluting lorries – and knows the Polish government is generally in favour of expanding road tolls, but it is still seeking the political will. The issue is important because the European Commission’s proposed revision of the Eurovignette directive next year could allow CO2-based tolling.
The Commission is currently drafting its “road initiative”, which consists of two main objectives: one is the protection of the rights of truck drivers and the other is a promotional mechanism to encourage a cleaner freight transport system. If done properly, this will have a positive impact on ending the exploitation of foreign truck drivers while also reducing CO2 emissions from road transport. However, vans simply bypass all of these laws and, if the Commission fails to address this, it could open the door to the further exploitation of drivers and result in dirtier and more congested roads.
The Paris Agreement’s objectives cannot be achieved without action to address rapidly growing emissions from international aviation and shipping, however these emissions sit outside of national targets. At the conclusion of COP21, the two UN agencies which regulate these sectors (ICAO for aviation and IMO for shipping) promised big action in 2016. Did they deliver? The event will consider what progress, if any, was made this year, what impact it may have on these sectors and what needs to happen now.
Electro-mobility offers an unequalled solution to make Europe’s transport more efficient and less polluting. But the market for electric vehicles (EVs - both battery and plug-in hybrids) has had several false dawns. Finally in 2015, sales of electric cars reached the important milestone of a 1% market share. Overall electric car sales doubled in 2015 to 145,000. The most recent data in 2016 suggests further growth in 2016. Sales year to date suggest significantly more than 200,000 plug-in vehicles will be sold in Europe this year taking the total number of EVs on the road to more than 500,000.
The on-time implementation (in 2020) of a global low-sulphur fuel law for ships would prevent 200,000 premature deaths globally, a health study by a group of leading researchers from the United States and Finland reveals. Oil and gas industry association IPIECA and a group of shipping companies represented by BIMCO, are pushing hard to delay the measure for five years, The Guardian reveals. Later this month the International Marine Organisation (IMO) will decide whether to stick to the 2020 date, which was agreed by acclamation back in 2008 . NGOs Seas at Risk and Transport & Environment (T&E), observers at the IMO, condemn any delay in the implementation of the sulphur cap for ship fuel, which would be unacceptable and unjustifiable.