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Europe can and should use its trade muscle for the green cause

Suddenly Karel de Gucht is the most talked-about figure in Brussels. The Belgian trade commissioner is very busy. He is trying to finish a free trade deal with Canada; his boss and Obama are pressing for a deal with the US to be next.  And then there is China – where the direction is towards less, not more, free trade. The EU has just imposed an anti-dumping 12% tariff on Chinese solar panels, with a threat to go to 47%. In its response, China is trying to play the usual divide-and-rule tactic by threatening tariffs on wine (annoying for the French), and luxury cars (annoying for the Germans).

EU Environment Agency figures show 2020 reduction target was ‘weak’

The EU has reached its greenhouse gas emissions target for 2020 nine years early. Figures released by the European Environment Agency (EEA) show emissions in 2011 were almost 20% lower than those in 1990, the ‘baseline’ year for the EU’s reduction targets. T&E says the figures show the 2020 target was not strict enough, and they make the case for investments in low-carbon technologies during times of economic downturn.

Action on charging points to help electric vehicles

The EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas has floated the idea of the EU legislating to oblige member states to provide more charging points for electric vehicles. The proposal came as part of a ‘Clean Power for Transport’ package launched last month that looks to encourage a greater take-up of alternative-fuel vehicles by the public. T&E said it was ‘a small but largely welcome step’ in the right direction.

10 questions for 2013 to test how important sustainable transport is for European leaders

Opinion by our Director, Jos Dings

A new year has come, full of new challenges and opportunities. Fortunately, for now, Europe seems to have averted the worst emergencies. This should allow for some less ad-hoc and more strategic thinking about recipes to get ourselves out of the woods.

‘Peak oil’ is dead – but the need for urgency is greater than ever

Opinion By Jos Dings - T&E DirectorThe most recent World Energy Outlook from the International Energy Agency caught more headlines than usual, the main reason being its finding that North America is to become self-sufficient in energy in 20 years due to an expected increase in production of unconventional oil and gas, as well as energy conservation – mainly more efficient cars. This has some serious consequences, also for Europe, and it heightens the responsibility of the world’s politicians to take some meaningful action on climate change, and quickly.

Cheaper car travel not helping environment, says EEA

The economic downturn of the last three years has contributed to some improvements in the impact of Europe’s transport on the environment, but while car transport has remained steady, train travel has decreased, largely because the cost is rising more quickly than the cost of driving.

World still not taking climate change seriously, say three reports

Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are hitting new highs, and global action to tackle such concentrations is falling well short of what is needed to prevent dangerous climate change, according to two new reports. A third report says tackling climate change is a key to ending poverty. T&E says the findings should strengthen the Commission and MEPs when they face pressure to weaken EU legislation such as the fuel quality directive and emissions trading for aviation.

Commission’s proposal on biofuels: the story of a missed opportunity

With this new blog post, T&E programme manager for clean fuels Nusa Urbancic unveils the process which has led to the weakening of a draft proposal that deals with biofuels sustainability, turning it into a missed opportunity. Urbancic also hints at the way in which the Parliament and Council can improve the proposal in the months to come.

Finally the recognition – but still lots of difficult questions

Opinion by Jos Dings - T&E directorAfter almost two years of delay, it now seems that the European Commission is indeed going to do something about indirect land-use change caused by growing crops for biofuels. And a delay it has been. Faithful readers of the Bulletin must have noted our regular coverage of the true avalanche of reports, studies and positions by generally very cautious bodies like the OECD and the FAO, pointing out the big risks and dangers of biofuels if handled without proper care.

Leaked Commission proposal recognises flaws in biofuels targets

The Commission seems ready to accept that setting a general target for the use of biofuels in transport is not going to help reduce greenhouse gases. Its long-awaited proposal on indirect land-use change caused by growing biofuel crops was leaked earlier this month. Although still subject to change, the draft says the Commission believes biofuels should only be subsidised after 2020 ‘if they lead to substantial greenhouse gas savings … and are not produced from crops used for food and feed’.

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