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.
This briefing summarises a legal analysis highlighting how the proposals are contrary to the requirements of the current ETS Directive. It also covers new research illustrating why including transport in the ETS would be counterproductive; compared with a scenario of ambitious post-2020 vehicle CO2 standards there would be 160,000 fewer jobs, and €22/77 billion higher oil imports in 2030/2050. Climate policy, as well as transport emissions reductions, would stall.
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.
Many people tend to see the world in a Manichean way. You’ve got the good guys and the bad guys. That’s as true within the environmental movement as anywhere else. So it is perhaps surprising to see that many environmentalists work together with unusual allies. For example, when it comes to car CO2 standards environmentalists and car drivers have the same interest; cleaner, more efficient cars are good for drivers’ pockets and for the climate. That makes the case for them almost irresistible.
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.
The Danish government has asked EU leaders to consider including transport in the emissions trading system (ETS) when they discuss climate and energy targets at a European Council later this month. Campaigners say such a move would actually be counterproductive to reducing emissions in the sector and do nothing to strengthen the ETS.
A project with innovative ideas designed to get cross-border commuters to switch from cars to cycling and public transport has won T&E member VCÖ’s mobility award in Austria.
The unofficial capital of Europe is the most congested city in Europe, according to the latest ranking of congested cities, but opinion sampling and a vote in Gothenburg suggest public willingness for tackling congestion is not great.