Today’s discovery by Belgian national TV that official Opel dealers have been modifying anti-pollution software in Zafira diesel cars without informing their customers is a further indication the Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal is the tip of the iceberg. The software responsible for the functioning of exhaust after-treatment of Zafira 2014 series cars with a 1.6 diesel engine was being adjusted to have the cars emit three times less nitrogen oxide (NOx) than before the software update.
Transport & Environment (T&E), with the financial support of Umweltbundesamt (UBA), is convening a policy discussion on the contribution of shipping to the EU's emissions reduction targets for 2030. The event will bring together high-profile speakers from industry, governments and academia and NGOs to discuss how the sector can carries its fair share of the burden to meet the objectives of the Paris climate agreement.
When French investigators swooped on Renault last week to seize computers, it was yet another stark illustration of the systemic failure of car testing in Europe. Their investigation is linked to the Volkswagen emissions scandal, where national testing authorities failed to detect or even investigate the cheating – despite being made aware of the exceptionally high on-road emissions.
In a year when the auto-industry was rocked by the #dieselgate scandal we also learned Volkswagen distorted tests for fuel economy and CO2 emissions as well. It was not surprising; contrary to industry claims of progress on efficiency there had been no real-world progress for a third successive year.
In between sending off the last e-mails, cleaning my desk and trying to recover from the T&E Christmas party, I was asked what I’ll remember from 2015. Lots of things obviously but professionally there’s only one thing that really stands out: the new US truck fuel efficiency regulation.
While the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) continued its essential work to develop a global market-based mechanism to cut the sector’s emissions, by far the biggest highlight of 2015 was the Paris COP21 summit.
Last year I learned that the so-called 2030 ‘Effort Sharing Decision’ (ESD) for which the Commission will be making a proposal before Summer 2016, can be extremely important for reducing emissions in the transport sector.
Who could have imagined that over the last year the oil industry would be facing so many radical changes and high-carbon tar sands would be having such a tough time? The year 2015 told us that these kinds of positive changes can happen rapidly when economics, citizen mobilisation and political leadership converge in the same direction.
Over the course of the year the extent of the shipping industry’s confusion – some would say delusion – on how to clean up its emissions became clear. Sitting in meeting rooms in London and Paris, we heard officials from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and industry profess their opposition to regional measures to reduce CO2 and then fail to address the problem at the global forum, the Paris climate conference.