A German trade body has uncovered evidence of a lorry exhaust manipulation scam ‘on an industrial scale’. Camion Pro says its research suggests around 20% of lorries using German roads have had their NOx emissions reduction technology manipulated by the scam that is rife in eastern Europe, causing increased pollution and losses of income from the German motorway toll scheme.
Legislation cutting nitrogen oxides (NOx) from shipping in the Baltic and North Seas has moved a step closer with a decision by countries bordering the Baltic Sea to apply for tighter NOx limits in designated so-called ‘emission control areas’ (ECAs).
Switzerland has voted in favour of building a second road tunnel through the Gotthard alpine mountain. In a referendum in late February, the Swiss electorate voted by 57% to 43% to approve a second road tunnel, despite it appearing to contradict the Swiss constitution that commits the country to shifting goods transport from road to rail. The vote has been widely seen as part of a political swing to the right, which has been accompanied by a weakening of public willingness to support environmental measures.
Implementing environmental regulations does not weaken an economy’s export competitiveness. That is the finding of a new study by the OECD that looks at trade between countries with strong environmental policies and countries with less stringent regulation. Its conclusion undermines the rationale for the 'better regulation' agenda being pushed by some EU countries.
Yet more evidence has emerged that highlights the discrepancy between the emissions levels measured in official testing and those emitted by cars on the road. T&E’s French member organisations have publicised the initial findings of a commission of enquiry set up last October by the French environment minister, Ségolène Royal.
Fiat’s 500X diesel car is the latest to come under suspicion for emitting levels of pollutants that are well over the amounts recorded in official testing. T&E’s German member DUH has published the results of an analysis on the compact SUV, saying the officially recorded emissions levels are ‘technically not plausible’. Fiat denies the car breaches Euro 6 rules, but has agreed to a modification of its engines.
CO2 standards for new vehicles have been proven to work and new targets should be introduced for 2025 and 2030, a report for the European Parliament’s transport committee has said. The limited quantities of available biofuels are also highlighted, while the shift to electric vehicles is ‘inevitable’.
Leaked plans by car and truckmakers to cut carbon emissions of their vehicles in Europe – by resurfacing all roads in the EU at a cost of more than €520 billion – have been criticised as an abdication of the sector’s climate responsibility. Industry body ACEA’s ‘Joining forces’ initiative calls for greater efficiencies through major investments such as in lower rolling resistance tarmac, but fails to identify new CO2 standards for vehicles.
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.