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Proposal on reducing aid to aviation leaves distortions

The Commission has published proposals aimed at reducing the amount of taxpayers’ money that goes to airports and airlines. However, the fine print of what is initially a consultation means small airports will continue to receive massive subsidies that often make their way to low-fares airlines, even when such subsidies distort competition between airlines. The consultation is important, because when it is complete the Commission can implement its preferred solution without consulting MEPs.

Multiple benefits from investing in advanced clean vehicle technology

The potential for environmental technology in the automotive industry to create jobs, reduce vehicle running costs and harmful emissions, and lessen Europe’s dependence on imported oil has been highlighted in a new report published last month. Various scenarios suggest carbon dioxide could be cut by 64-97% by 2050, while 0.5-1.1 million additional jobs could be created by 2030.

Biofuels’ indirect emissions finally recognised by MEPs

The complex but crucial concept of indirect land-use change has finally been recognised by one section of the EU’s legislative process. Earlier this month, the European Parliament’s environment committee voted for full accounting of indirect emissions from biofuels production, as well as a 5.5% cap on land-based biofuels counting towards the EU’s renewable energy targets. Although the vote is a long way from being confirmed, T&E described it as ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.

Europe can and should use its trade muscle for the green cause

Suddenly Karel de Gucht is the most talked-about figure in Brussels. The Belgian trade commissioner is very busy. He is trying to finish a free trade deal with Canada; his boss and Obama are pressing for a deal with the US to be next.  And then there is China – where the direction is towards less, not more, free trade. The EU has just imposed an anti-dumping 12% tariff on Chinese solar panels, with a threat to go to 47%. In its response, China is trying to play the usual divide-and-rule tactic by threatening tariffs on wine (annoying for the French), and luxury cars (annoying for the Germans).

Makers of German gas-guzzling cars cheat fuel-economy tests more than all others

Gap between makers of gas-guzzlers and fuel-efficient cars is growingA new report says the average discrepancy between car CO2 emissions measured in official tests and what they emit on the roads was 7% a decade ago but is about 25% now. T&E says the findings also show the makers of gas guzzlers cheat motorists the most. This latest report comes as the Commission and MEPs are supporting calls for a new and more realistic testing regime, but some governments are trying to delay it.

Airlines add pressure on governments to reach global aviation deal

The world’s leading airlines have indicated the need to accept a global market-based measure to reduce aviation’s contribution to climate change. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) agreed at its annual meeting earlier this month that a global carbon-offsetting measure after 2020 would be acceptable to its airline members. T&E has recognised the shift in air industry thinking compared with earlier statements, but says the IATA position is ‘not convincing’.

‘Historic’ agreement on TEN-T guidelines

The Commission appears to have re-launched its trans-European transport networks (TEN-T) strategy. The transport commissioner Siim Kallas described an agreement last month between Commission officials, MEPs and representatives of member states as ‘a historic agreement to create a powerful European transport network’. Yet the agreement merely takes the existing TEN-T up to 2020, and even then there is likely to be less money available than will be needed to fund all the EU’s list of transport infrastructure projects.

Has the Commission violated EU law over biofuels?

A senior environmental lawyer has undertaken a new legal analysis of the Commission’s proposal to address indirect land-use change (ILUC) caused by the EU’s biofuels policy, revealing that the EU executive violated a fundamental principle of EU law in its response to the problem of ILUC.

EU Environment Agency figures show 2020 reduction target was ‘weak’

The EU has reached its greenhouse gas emissions target for 2020 nine years early. Figures released by the European Environment Agency (EEA) show emissions in 2011 were almost 20% lower than those in 1990, the ‘baseline’ year for the EU’s reduction targets. T&E says the figures show the 2020 target was not strict enough, and they make the case for investments in low-carbon technologies during times of economic downturn.

Who’s taking the lead on lead times?

‘Lead time’ is an expression most people do not often hear, but you hear it all the time when you work on European green laws. Lead time is the idea that, when you set a new environmental standard for an industry, that industry needs to be given time to adapt. This all sounds fair and good, but in reality claiming that lead times are too short, or even too long, is a very popular tool for industry lobbyists to get rid of or delay laws, and that in turn makes lead time a controversial issue.

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