The Commission has said a number of EU member states could be making more and better use of environmental taxation.
The Juncker Commission has been in office for a month now. I can’t resist a bit of early stocktaking, but I will also look ahead.
EU heads of state today agreed three modest climate and green energy targets for 2030 , which lack the ambition needed to put Europe on track to meet its own 2050 climate commitments  and will not do enough to cut dependence on fossil fuels. Sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) says that now targets have been agreed, all eyes should turn towards implementation: the means and policies to achieve these 2030 targets can still make a big difference for the climate and the transition to a low-carbon economy where transport is crucial.
In the two European Parliament hearings, which were clearly designed to avoid undue controversy, both Commissioners-designate Maroš Šefčovič and Violeta Bulc displayed a good grasp of their briefs but stayed clear of strong statements, let alone concrete commitments.
T&E's reaction to the Parliament's hearing of Commissioner-designate for Transport and Space Maroš ŠefčovičToday’s questioning of Commissioner-designate for Transport and Space revealed Maroš Šefčovič to be a capable and experienced Commissioner with a surprisingly good grasp of his brief.
The Green 10, a coalition of the 10 leading environmental organisations active at EU level, wrote to Commission Vice-President designate Frans Timmermans expressing grave concerns over the proposed set-up for the new Commission. The letter notes that none of the vice presidents’ mission letters mention sustainability as a key issue, and the mandate for the Environment Commissioner aims for a freeze and possibly rollback of environmental policies. The new Commission structure would also mean that for the first time in two decades the EU would not have a dedicated Environment Commissioner. There are also serious concerns over conflicts of interest resulting from the current assignment of some portfolios.The letter reiterates the Green 10's four proposals to rebalance this situation: establish a vice-president for sustainability; upgrade the Vice-President for Energy Union to ‘Climate Action and Energy Union’; ensure the full-time environment portfolio is reinstated; and resolve the conflicts of interest.
T&E's reaction to European Parliament's hearing of Commissioner-designate for Environment Mr Karmenu Vella. Today’s two-hour grilling of Commissioner-designate for Environment Mr Karmenu Vella revealed how critically important 'Green 10' demands are for anchoring sustainability higher in the Commission’s organisational chart. A first, important move will be to give one Vice-President the formal responsibility for sustainability, stressing the need for a VP to be held accountable for delivering sustainable development.
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.
The latest United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report published today alerts global leaders to the growing threat of uncontrolled transport emissions. The UN's climate panel says that transport is set to become the world’s biggest source of CO2 emissions unless lawmakers take strong action now. The report states: “Without aggressive and sustained policies (to cut CO2 from cars and trucks), transport emissions could increase at a faster rate than emissions from any other sector.”
The European Parliament’s transport committee today voted to change rules for lorry cabins that could save hundreds of lives and reduce fuel consumption and emissions. The committee voted to give lorry manufacturers more design space for the front end, allowing a more streamlined nose and ending the era of Europe’s characteristically brick-shaped lorries.