Transport & Environment (T&E) has welcomed an EU agreement that could lead to a doubling of the fuel-efficiency of new cars by 2025 and a halving of CO2 emissions. However, the final agreement is weaker than that of the European Parliament and offers too many concessions to appease German luxury carmakers.
Air travel accounts for 5-14% of global climate emissions and is growing rapidly. Nevertheless, aviation emissions remain unregulated. Pressure is mounting on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to agree to a mechanism to reduce aviation emissions during their next triennial Assembly in September 2013.
Europe could improve its growth prospects and create 500,000 to 1.1 million net additional jobs in 2030 through auto sector innovation. Increased technology to cut fuel consumption would allow the EU to reduce its dependence on foreign oil and deliver between €58 and €83 billion a year in fuel savings for the EU economy by 2030. This shift will achieve the double bonus of mitigating climate change and creating a much-needed economic stimulus.
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.