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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’.

Commission efforts towards more sustainable biofuels, a step in the right direction

T&E welcomes the news that the European Commission is taking a firststep towards resolving the negative impacts of biofuels from foodcrops, but urges commissioners to go further by addressing theseimpacts via all relevant legislation.

Industry lobbying continues to hold Commission back

The current Commission is on track to have one of the worst-ever environmental records of any EU administration. That is the view of the group of 10 Brussels-based environmental NGOs (‘Green 10’), whose mid-term assessment of José Manuel Barroso’s second Commission says it would not win any medals and is acting to protect the environment even less than his first Commission (2005-09).

Linking minimum tax rates with energy and CO2 still proving difficult

The idea of making fuel tax in Europe relate to a fuel’s energy and carbon dioxide content is still struggling to get into the EU Energy Tax Directive. Last month EU finance ministers moved closer to approving a new structure for minimum tax rates for fuels, but most member states opposed any system that would force them to make diesel more expensive than petrol.

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