MEPs are voting for more sustainability with one hand and unsustainable projects with the other. That is the message from a group of NGOs after MEPs voted to strengthen sustainability safeguards for infrastructure projects that could receive EU funding, but at the same time voted to support certain transport projects that will take Europe further away from its sustainability goals.
The European Commission has gone back on a series of commitments to reduce the environmental impacts of road vehicles. T&E says the climbdown carries the fingerprints of lobbying by the automotive industry, but will not help Europe’s car makers in the long term.
EU transport ministers have discussed revisions to the guidelines that govern spending on trans-European transport networks infrastructure projects (TEN-T, soon to be renamed the Connecting Europe Facility), but T&E says concerns remain about how the money will be spent and how the environmental impact of projects co-funded by EU money is accounted for. The Commission says the TEN-T revisions will promote lower-carbon options such as rail projects, but T&E has warned that projects should be judged on their emissions reduction potential.
T&E has called for the EU to adopt a ‘climate rating’ scheme that would assess all transport infrastructure projects for their contribution to climate change before they are given EU funding. The call comes in the run-up to the review of guidelines for the EU to part-fund transport projects, and has involved T&E commissioning a study that provides the outline of a climate rating system.
Portugal has included the last 600 kilometres of motorways in its toll system, which means that all the country’s motorways are now tolled for all vehicles.
Freight carried by rail is up, in particular in eastern Europe. The figures, from the European railway companies’ umbrella organisation CER, coincide with a report highlighting ‘significant potential’ for a shift to rail to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Voters in central Switzerland have rejected a proposal for a second road tunnel through the Gotthard mountain.
A leading MEP has asked the Commission to stop Poland spending €1.2 billion of cohesion fund money on roads which has been given for improving rail transport.