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10 things that went well for sustainable transport in 2013

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).

EU clinging to ‘false euphoria’ about biofuels

Hopes of having the full social and environmental effects of biofuels reflected in EU legislation before 2020 are fading after another round of negotiations led to further weakening of the European Commission’s proposal. With an agreement likely in the Council of Ministers next month, it looks as if the requirement for member states to report the effects of indirect land-use change (ILUC) will be further weakened. Also, food-based biofuels that are worse for climate change than traditional petrol and diesel will be allowed to increase by 50% from today’s levels and will not be capped under the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD).

Europe renews carmakers’ licence to make noise for decades

A deal between EU officials, MEPs and member states on measures to reduce road noise from vehicles means Europeans will have to wait another 30 years to enjoy a quieter life. The deal, agreed earlier this month, waters down a Commission proposal that had already been criticised for being too weak and too late. T&E says the deal is ‘disgraceful’ as it puts the interests of the carmakers ahead of the health and welfare of Europe’s citizens.

Push to cut paperwork must not weaken green laws

The Clean Shipping Coalition has warned that a drive to cut paperwork could undermine the effectiveness of environmental regulations. The warning from the coalition of environmental NGOs, including T&E, comes as the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) processes the results from a six-month consultation on how to help ship operators and national administrations reduce their administrative costs.

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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