The EU’s policy of using biodiesel for transport is set to increase Europe’s overall transport emissions by almost 4% instead of cutting CO2 emissions, according to a new analysis of the European Commission’s latest study on biofuels. These extra emissions are equivalent to putting around 12 million additional cars on Europe’s roads in 2020, the analysis by T&E finds. These findings take into account the EU’s 7% cap on the contribution of biofuels produced from food crops.
The appalling scale of carmakers’ gaming and cheating of emissions tests became more apparent in April as their credibility collapsed like a house of cards. The steady drip-drip with which the public became increasingly aware of the magnitude and pervasiveness of carmakers’ wrongdoing started on 20 April when Mitsubishi’s top executives admitted it had cheated CO2 tests on 625,000 minicars in Japan. Mitsubishi’s president acknowledged the misconduct with a deep bow of apology and later admitted the carmaker had cheated fuel tests for 25 years.
Diesel trains and barges will not need to have exhaust treatment systems even though they are required for cars and trucks, EU governments and MEPs agreed last month. The new law means citizens living along rail-lines and close to rail stations must continue to breathe cancer-causing diesel fumes, T&E warned.
Trucks cost society €143 billion a year across the EU through damage to infrastructure and health as well as congestion, climate change and other effects. The impact of heavy-duty vehicles is assessed in a new independent study for T&E which also finds that only 30% of these costs are covered by fuel excise duties, vehicle taxes and infrastructure charges.
A German trade body has uncovered evidence of a lorry exhaust manipulation scam ‘on an industrial scale’. Camion Pro says its research suggests around 20% of lorries using German roads have had their NOx emissions reduction technology manipulated by the scam that is rife in eastern Europe, causing increased pollution and losses of income from the German motorway toll scheme.
Road charging for lorries has been introduced in Russia, with environmental groups hoping it will bring a shift in freight from road to rail. The measure is intended primarily to raise money to repair roads; any environmental benefits look like being accidental.
Legislation cutting nitrogen oxides (NOx) from shipping in the Baltic and North Seas has moved a step closer with a decision by countries bordering the Baltic Sea to apply for tighter NOx limits in designated so-called ‘emission control areas’ (ECAs).
Switzerland has voted in favour of building a second road tunnel through the Gotthard alpine mountain. In a referendum in late February, the Swiss electorate voted by 57% to 43% to approve a second road tunnel, despite it appearing to contradict the Swiss constitution that commits the country to shifting goods transport from road to rail. The vote has been widely seen as part of a political swing to the right, which has been accompanied by a weakening of public willingness to support environmental measures.
Yet more evidence has emerged that highlights the discrepancy between the emissions levels measured in official testing and those emitted by cars on the road. T&E’s French member organisations have publicised the initial findings of a commission of enquiry set up last October by the French environment minister, Ségolène Royal.