Global headlines are being dominated by events in Crimea, and how the West is dealing or ought to deal with it. All this geopolitics seems of terribly remote interest for the issues that concern us, humble environmentalists. But is it?
As the delay on the proposal to implement the Fuel Quality Directive reaches 1,186 days, there is growing evidence that tar sands mining and drilling operations, pipelines, and refineries are exposing local communities to serious health risks and problems.
Curtailing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from ships is ‘technically feasible’, according to a new study published ahead of this week’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting that will decide on a proposal to postpone the 2016 introduction of NOx emission control areas at sea.
EU heads of government have postponed a decision on cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The EU climate change commissioner put a positive spin on the delay, but disappointed environmental groups were scathing in their criticism.
The EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht has ordered a public consultation on a legal clause in the emerging EU-US trade agreement that campaigners say could undermine environmental and consumer protection. The legal provision, known as ‘investor-state dispute settlement’, would give companies the right to take legal action against governments if they feel their investment potential or profits are being hindered by regulatory or policy changes at national level. What’s more, such disputes would be judged by special panels made up of people acceptable to business interests, and bypass national laws.
It’s March 2014, and we still don’t have a functioning Fuel Quality Directive - the only European law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport fuel. After 1181 days of delay, the lack of so-called ‘implementing rules’ matters a lot. These rules will determine whether Europe’s oil companies will only blend in biofuels to reduce their emissions, or also look for the ‘cleanest’ possible fossil fuels - which are most certainly not tar sands, to name one example.
The European Commission has delayed for years in proposing the implementing measures for article 7a of the Fuel Quality Directive - the only law that would lower emissions from transport fuels. This request for an internal review of the failure to submit a new proposal was sent to the Commission in January 2014 by Transport & Environment, Friends of the Earth Europe and Greenpeace. We are still waiting for a response. For more information on the Fuel Quality Directive and the delay - see our timeline.
The first-ever European ‘citizens’ 'initiative’ has set in train a process that could lead to changes in EU legislation, which in turn would establish the initiative as a democratic tool in the EU’s legislative process. The ‘Right2Water’ initiative was signed by almost 1.7 million EU citizens and presented to the Commission. The commissioners have now responded by announcing a public consultation, which could lead to changes in the EU’s drinking water directive.
It’s a question I get asked a lot: so are you having any success in greening transport in Europe? I presume not. There are still an awful lot of cars around, aren’t there?