There is broad support among EU environment ministers for new CO2 standards for trucks and strengthened CO2 standards for cars. A large number of those attending an informal council of transport and environment ministers in Amsterdam last month said the measures would be required to ensure the necessary transition towards a low and zero emission transport sector in 2050 in order to combat climate change, air pollution and ‘green’ Europe’s economy.
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.
CO2 standards for new vehicles have been proven to work and new targets should be introduced for 2025 and 2030, a report for the European Parliament’s transport committee has said. The limited quantities of available biofuels are also highlighted, while the shift to electric vehicles is ‘inevitable’.
Leaked plans by car and truckmakers to cut carbon emissions of their vehicles in Europe – by resurfacing all roads in the EU at a cost of more than €520 billion – have been criticised as an abdication of the sector’s climate responsibility. Industry body ACEA’s ‘Joining forces’ initiative calls for greater efficiencies through major investments such as in lower rolling resistance tarmac, but fails to identify new CO2 standards for vehicles.
The European Commission is taking legal action against the UK over claims it is exceeding limits on air pollution from traffic. Britain has two months to respond to the case that it breached EU limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions, which cause breathing and other health problems.
"The role of the Commission in advancing the road pricing agenda cannot be underestimated", T&E Director Jos Dings stated at the Conference on fair and efficient road pricing organised by the European Commission on 5 Dec:
Road pricing is progressing because the list of its advantages is impressive. No wonder ever more countries in Europe are choosing for road user charging, and we are having a conference about its future.
Opinion by Jos Dings - T&E Director
Did we miss something? Last year, the European Commission didn’t propose a single new legislative measure to clean up transport. To be fair, it has been spending most of its time worrying about the future of the Eurozone. As a result, for T&E this was the sort of year where seeds for smarter transport policy were sown. We’re optimistic that next year could bring a decent crop of positive changes.