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Finally the recognition – but still lots of difficult questions

Opinion by Jos Dings - T&E directorAfter almost two years of delay, it now seems that the European Commission is indeed going to do something about indirect land-use change caused by growing crops for biofuels. And a delay it has been. Faithful readers of the Bulletin must have noted our regular coverage of the true avalanche of reports, studies and positions by generally very cautious bodies like the OECD and the FAO, pointing out the big risks and dangers of biofuels if handled without proper care.

A shipping route through troubled waters?

The melting ice of the Arctic region has made the idea of a shipping route through the North Pole an increasingly realistic possibility, but this has the potential to create massive environmental problems. A group of NGOs, including T&E, has therefore put together a report highlighting the potential impact of an increase in shipping in the Arctic region.

Industry lobbying continues to hold Commission back

The current Commission is on track to have one of the worst-ever environmental records of any EU administration. That is the view of the group of 10 Brussels-based environmental NGOs (‘Green 10’), whose mid-term assessment of José Manuel Barroso’s second Commission says it would not win any medals and is acting to protect the environment even less than his first Commission (2005-09).

Ministers’ call for road funding defies CEF agreement

EU transport ministers have contradicted the Commission’s transport infrastructure funding proposals by calling for some of the money to be diverted to road projects. The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), which replaces the fund for the trans-European transport networks (TEN-T), was put forward last year, with one of its main aims to help the EU achieve its target of reducing greenhouse gases by 60% between 1990 and 2050. For that reason, the Commission had proposed to concentrate funding on rail, intermodal and port projects.

Warning on TEN-T package

Motorway

EU transport ministers have discussed revisions to the guidelines that govern spending on trans-European transport networks infrastructure projects (TEN-T, soon to be renamed the Connecting Europe Facility), but T&E says concerns remain about how the money will be spent and how the environmental impact of projects co-funded by EU money is accounted for. The Commission says the TEN-T revisions will promote lower-carbon options such as rail projects, but T&E has warned that projects should be judged on their emissions reduction potential.

Road interests launch Green Freight initiative

Line of lorries

An alliance of road freight interests has launched ‘Green Freight Europe’, aimed at working out a reliable method of measuring emissions from lorries. The group of hauliers, transport logistics firms and companies that use lorries to transport goods set out its scheme last month in the presence of the EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas. Estimates of today’s fuel efficiency of lorries vary widely.

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