A project to create the world’s first ‘sustainable motorway’ has been launched in the Netherlands by two environmental organisations, T&E members Milieudefensie and Natuur & Milieu.
One of the frustrations of EU transport policy is the relentless focus on the internal market as the one-and-only justification for setting standards, introducing rules or spending money. It leaves us all short-changed. On the rare occasion that ‘Brussels’ tries to make suggestions for cities’ or regions’ transport policies to improve air quality, safety or health, the spectre of ‘subsidiarity’ spooks everyone and the idea vanishes.
New rules for lorry design, which campaigners hope will reduce fuel consumption and emissions and save hundreds of lives, have been accepted almost unanimously by the full European Parliament. For the first time, MEPs also called for the introduction of fuel efficiency standards for lorries. But these proposed rules, which must now be agreed by EU member states, face opposition from national transport ministers seeking to shield some lorry makers from innovation.
Long-haul flights to and from Europe will continue to be excluded from the EU emissions trading system (ETS) after MEPs voted last month to accept a compromise brokered with EU governments. The agreement means that, until 2017, only flights between EU airports will be regulated – a 75% cut in emissions covered compared with the original ETS.
Without action, global CO2 emissions from transport are projected to double by 2050, the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has concluded. But ‘aggressive and sustained’ measures, including fuel carbon and energy intensity improvements, as well as infrastructure development can change the trendline and lead to a CO2 reduction of 15-40% instead.
Progress towards new design and safety standards for lorries will be jeopardised if the European Commission backtracks on safety requirements, environmental and road safety campaigners fear.
A peak in air pollution brought a drastic change to transport habits in Paris for one day, following a combination of unseasonably hot weather and diesel cars fumes. No strangers to air pollution regularly exceeding EU limits, the authorities in the French capital banned all cars with even-numbered licence plates from entering the city on 17 March due to exceptionally high levels. The idea was to ban odd-numbered plates the next day, but that proved unnecessary as a 25% reduction in traffic and cooler weather brought pollution levels down.
MEPs from the socialist S&D group are still deciding on next week’s vote to only regulate CO2 emissions of intra-European flights which, T&E argues, effectively dismantles the aviation emissions trading system (ETS). The Parliament’s environment committee will consider the trilogue deal, which reflects EU governments’ giving in to pressure from third countries, the aviation industry and Airbus.
Last week saw Europe extend its dirtiest subsidy, the one that makes ultra-cheap air tickets possible, by at least another decade. That’s the simplest way to sum up new rules for state aid to regional airports and airlines. The text itself is, as usual, almost impossible to read for lay people, so in this piece I will try to paint the rules and their consequences as simply as possible.
State subsidies for regional airports and airlines serving them – mainly the low-cost airlines – will be allowed to continue for at least another 10 years, according to the Commission’s finalised guidelines on state aid for airports. The revised guidelines, which cannot now be challenged by MEPs, are ostensibly aimed at streamlining and tightening state aid for airports.