Suddenly Karel de Gucht is the most talked-about figure in Brussels. The Belgian trade commissioner is very busy. He is trying to finish a free trade deal with Canada; his boss and Obama are pressing for a deal with the US to be next. And then there is China – where the direction is towards less, not more, free trade. The EU has just imposed an anti-dumping 12% tariff on Chinese solar panels, with a threat to go to 47%. In its response, China is trying to play the usual divide-and-rule tactic by threatening tariffs on wine (annoying for the French), and luxury cars (annoying for the Germans).
Members of the European Parliament’s Energy Committee in a vote today weakened an already modest proposal to fix EU biofuels policy, hampering the transition towards more sustainable biofuels. MEPs voted not only against accounting for biofuel emissions from indirect land-use change (ILUC) but even against reporting them , allowing biofuels that increase emissions compared to conventional diesel and petrol to count towards the 10% renewable energy target in transport by 2020 .
T&E, as well over 100 other organisations signed up to an open letter to EU decision makers on EU biofuels policy. Urgent action is needed to halt the expansion of land-based biofuels (i.e. biofuels, or agrofuels, made from food crops or dedicated energy crops) which bring few or no climate benefits while putting extra pressure on scarce land resources, especially for food and feed.
Gap between makers of gas-guzzlers and fuel-efficient cars is growingA new report says the average discrepancy between car CO2 emissions measured in official tests and what they emit on the roads was 7% a decade ago but is about 25% now. T&E says the findings also show the makers of gas guzzlers cheat motorists the most. This latest report comes as the Commission and MEPs are supporting calls for a new and more realistic testing regime, but some governments are trying to delay it.
The world’s leading airlines have indicated the need to accept a global market-based measure to reduce aviation’s contribution to climate change. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) agreed at its annual meeting earlier this month that a global carbon-offsetting measure after 2020 would be acceptable to its airline members. T&E has recognised the shift in air industry thinking compared with earlier statements, but says the IATA position is ‘not convincing’.
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.
A senior environmental lawyer has undertaken a new legal analysis of the Commission’s proposal to address indirect land-use change (ILUC) caused by the EU’s biofuels policy, revealing that the EU executive violated a fundamental principle of EU law in its response to the problem of ILUC.
The following is the methodology note for the calculations used in T&E's original video 'Stop the Oil Waste', which details the waste from inefficient cars in Europe because of weakenings in proposed legislation. This waste is worth 35 billion EUR a year! The more fuel-efficient a car is, the cheaper it is to run. The European Parliament is currently deciding how fuel-efficient future cars in Europe should be. Weakening of the proposed car fuel-efficiency law (95 grams of CO2/km) will cause huge levels of oil waste and money.
This open letter, signed by a large group of civil society groups and NGOs, calls on Members of the European Parliament to make crucial changes to the EU biofuels policy. The policy is not only failing in its basic objective of cutting CO2 emissions from Europe's transport, but is also costing governments and taxpayers €10 billion in support every year.
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.