Over what distances is it realistic to expect people to commute by bicycle? And what if that bicycle offers electrically assisted pedalling? These are the questions being researched by Bram Rotthier, an academic at a university in the Belgian city of Leuven. Rotthier has commissioned 15 cyclists to test commuting distances, one of whom is a Green politician who is cycling around 100km per day on a ‘speed pedelec’, an electric bicycle capable of up to 45 km/h.
New research from the OECD suggests stricter environmental policies do not hold back economic growth, and that governments and companies are often wrong to claim that measures to tackle environmental threats will damage economic competitiveness through imposing a burden of ‘green tape’.
The right of individuals and NGOs to challenge environmental decisions has been thrown into doubt by a controversial ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
A coalition of 140 groups representing 250,000 citizens from 10 European countries has called on the EU to strip the aviation sector of the tax exemptions and state aid it currently enjoys, as well as ban flights operating at night.
The unofficial capital of Europe is the most congested city in Europe, according to the latest ranking of congested cities, but opinion sampling and a vote in Gothenburg suggest public willingness for tackling congestion is not great.
One of the frustrations of EU transport policy is the relentless focus on the internal market as the one-and-only justification for setting standards, introducing rules or spending money. It leaves us all short-changed. On the rare occasion that ‘Brussels’ tries to make suggestions for cities’ or regions’ transport policies to improve air quality, safety or health, the spectre of ‘subsidiarity’ spooks everyone and the idea vanishes.
Yes, this editorial has an unlikely title. If you have been following us, or the issues we work on, a little bit, the overwhelming impression is that things have been scaled back (emissions-trading aviation), postponed (the Fuel Quality Directive, possibly NOx from ship engines, truck CO2 emissions) and watered down (CO2 from cars, biofuels).
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.
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).
Research by the respected Dutch consultancy CE Delft has shown that carbon dioxide emissions from road transport could be reduced by 30% if motorway speed limits in the Netherlands were set at 80 km/h.