The Commission has published its long-awaited response to the failure by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to tackle shipping’s contribution to global warming – and it has disappointed environmental groups. The proposal, published last month, is to require the largest ocean-going vessels, which are responsible for 90% of all shipping emissions, to monitor, report and verify their emissions of carbon dioxide, but no reference is made to other harmful emissions such as nitrogen or sulphur oxides, and no incentives or requirements to reduce emissions are included.
The Commission appears to have re-launched its trans-European transport networks (TEN-T) strategy. The transport commissioner Siim Kallas described an agreement last month between Commission officials, MEPs and representatives of member states as ‘a historic agreement to create a powerful European transport network’. Yet the agreement merely takes the existing TEN-T up to 2020, and even then there is likely to be less money available than will be needed to fund all the EU’s list of transport infrastructure projects.
The EU has reached its greenhouse gas emissions target for 2020 nine years early. Figures released by the European Environment Agency (EEA) show emissions in 2011 were almost 20% lower than those in 1990, the ‘baseline’ year for the EU’s reduction targets. T&E says the figures show the 2020 target was not strict enough, and they make the case for investments in low-carbon technologies during times of economic downturn.
The European Parliament’s environment committee has sent a strong signal that it wants Europe’s vans to be more fuel-efficient than they are now. MEPs voted for a carbon dioxide emissions limit of between 105 and 120 g/km by 2025, down from 181 g/km in 2010. The 2025 target would equate to fuel consumption of 4 to 4.5 l/100km. The specific figure should be defined in 2017. The committee also voted to limit the speed of all new vans to 120 km/h from the start of next year.
MEPs have sent a signal that car makers will have to meet fuel efficiency targets by both 2020 and 2025. Although the decision still has to be confirmed by the full European Parliament, EU member states and Commission, the move lays down a marker that the average new car should need less than three litres to drive 100km by 2025. Environmental groups have welcomed the vote, but say it does not go far enough to drive zero-emission cars into the market.
The EU has finalised the text of its ‘stop the clock’ concession on the inclusion of emissions from intercontinental flights in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme, although the chances of the gesture being wasted by members of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) look greater with each day that goes by.
Pollution from road traffic could have a greater role in harming the health of children than previously thought. A new study based on research in 10 European cities estimates that 14% of chronic childhood asthma is a result of traffic pollution near busy roads.
The Danish government has changed the rules on the country’s oil industry taxation in a way that will mean the state’s income from fossil fuels will increase, and the additional revenue must be spent on reducing fossil-fuel dependence. Specifically, taxes on smaller oil producers will rise, and the money has to be spent on electrifying the country’s rail network.
An analysis of market forecasts for low-carbon cars suggests the take-up of electric vehicles will have a very slow take-up over the next decade. The analysis, Powering Ahead by the Ricardo-AEA consultancy, says the total number of plug-in hybrid and pure battery-powered cars being sold each year in the UK by 2020 will not exceed 200 000 and may even be as low as 40 000.
The gap between what cars emit in reality and what they are officially measured as emitting has grown to nearly a quarter, and continues to grow. A report by T&E says this gap and its growth is caused by car makers’ manipulation of testing procedures, and it explains how this is done. T&E says the current test regime is not fit for purpose, a new test should replace it by 2016, and follow-up checks should be carried out on cars to show their results are consistent with the official test results.