The United States has set new standards for carbon dioxide emissions from lorries, which are sufficiently ambitious to threaten to leave Europe’s truck-making industry behind. The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) described the new standards as ‘a big win-win’ for their potential to cut both costs and greenhouse gases, while T&E said they were ‘as much about environmental leadership as about innovation’.
National emissions-reduction targets proposed for the transport, agriculture and buildings sectors include loopholes that would put their delivery at serious risk, environmental groups have warned. The regulation proposed by the European Commission will determine how member states share the burden of meeting the EU’s climate goals by 2030.
Fears that Europe’s transport is still lagging behind other industrial sectors in tackling climate change have been confirmed by the latest data from the European Environment Agency (EEA). Its data show greenhouse gases from transport have grown for the first time since 2007. T&E says the figures are worse than the EEA says, and calls on the EU to take ‘ambitious’ action.
By Jos Dings, T&E executive directorAmerica is no green saint. An American emits more than twice the carbon of a European. Per head Americans also use more than twice as much oil for transport as Europeans do – mostly because five Americans own as many vehicles as eight Europeans and many of their vehicles don’t even fit in European garages. They send more than three times as much household waste to landfills. And so on.
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.
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.
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.
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.