New cars consume on average 42% more fuel on the road than advertised in sales brochures, according to T&E’s latest Mind the Gap report. Despite auto industry claims of their vehicles’ ever-improving fuel economy, the gap between real-world fuel consumption and official figures has grown from 28% in 2012 and 14% a decade ago.
Food-based biofuels can still be counted towards the EU’s renewable energy target, the European Commission has proposed – in a stunning U-turn on its commitment to phase-out first-generation biofuels that are worse for the climate than fossil fuels. Member states will be able to use a maximum 3.8% share of food-based biofuels in transport towards the Renewable Energy Directive’s target for 2030, barely reduced from the current 4.9% market share at EU level.
Proposals to make lorries safer for vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians have been announced by the European Commission. T&E has welcomed the basis for the new legislation, but says the Commission’s 2028 deadline for improved direct vision for trucks is too long and must be shortened.
New real-world emissions tests for modern petrol engines have been backed by EU governments. However, the tests will allow a conformity factor of 50%, meaning new petrol cars will be allowed to exceed current limits on particulate emissions by half – to take account of uncertainties in the test procedure. Governments agreed to stick with the September 2018 proposed date for all new cars to comply with the rules.
Efforts to expose Europe’s rail companies to more competition have moved a step forward, with the EU’s Fourth Rail Package being approved by MEPs. The measure was controversial in some respects, but T&E has given the news a cautious welcome.
National regulators failed to implement the existing rules on vehicle emissions testing, thus paving the way for the Dieselgate scandal, a parliamentary investigation has found. Members of the European Parliament's Dieselgate enquiry identified three main failures by the national authorities in charge of testing new vehicles before they could be sold: failure to independently test cars in order to verify their performance on the road; failure to search for illegal defeat devices despite clear obligations to do so; and failure to put in place and apply dissuasive penalties on carmakers.
By Jos Dings, executive directorWHAT WE LEARNED IN 2016: This piece is not to add to the incredible volume of thoughtful analysis on what made Brexit and Trump possible – let alone to offer a solution. It is about what it means for NGOs in general and T&E in particular, and what we can do now.What it means? Put simply, bad news, and not only because the Brexiteers and Trump are no tree huggers. Green and less green politicians come and go after all.
By Bill Hemmings, aviation and shipping directorWHAT WE LEARNED IN 2016: 2015 ended with big promises from the UN aviation and shipping bodies, ICAO and the IMO, that they’d finally act to rein in their sectors’ substantial and growing climate impact. It has been almost 20 years since they were first tasked with doing so by the Kyoto Protocol, and 2016 would be their last chance.