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10 things that went well for sustainable transport in 2013

Yes, this editorial has an unlikely title. If you have been following us, or the issues we work on, a little bit, the overwhelming impression is that things have been scaled back (emissions-trading aviation), postponed (the Fuel Quality Directive, possibly NOx from ship engines, truck CO2 emissions) and watered down (CO2 from cars, biofuels).

New petrol engines cause more air pollution than dirty diesels

New Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) petrol engines for cars emit more cancer-causing particles than modern diesel engines, a new study by independent vehicle researchers TÜV Nord revealed today. While GDI engines make petrol cars more fuel-efficient and emit less CO2, the findings show that these new petrol engines typically release around 1,000 times more harmful particles than traditional petrol engines and 10 times more than new diesels.

Particle emissions from petrol cars

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Vehicle tests show that without the use of gasoline particulate filters (GPF) the number of particles emitted from gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines is likely to exceed future European emissions limits, known as Euro 6 standards. Nowadays, particle emissions from these new petrol engines are higher than equivalent diesel vehicles. The cost of a filter to eliminate particle emissions is low (around €40), with no fuel economy penalty. Despite this, carmakers are delaying fitting filters on GDI cars and instead rely on manipulating tests. Their reluctance is worsening urban air pollution and reducing the health benefits of the new limits.

New call for tender for study on energy crops in Europe

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Transport & Environment, BirdLife Europe and the European Environmental Bureau would like to commission a study to analyse the sustainable potential of energy biomass (specifically energy crops, short rotation coppice and forests) as a source of bioenergy in Europe.

Decision on the future of EU biofuels delayed until 2015

The Environment Committee of the European Parliament today refused to allow the rapporteur of the biofuels draft law, MEP Corinne Lepage, to start negotiations with member states in a fast second-reading procedure. This procedural vote has important consequences because it means a decision on the future of biofuels in Europe is unlikely to be taken before 2015.

Position paper on deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure

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This paper describes Transport & Environment’s (T&E’s) views on the Commission’s proposals. Whilst we support technology neutral policy we also recognise that emerging technologies require support to compete with the use of oil for transport. T&E therefore welcomes the Commission’s initiative, but believes that the detailed proposal has shortcomings. This paper addresses the key limitations and presents solutions to facilitate a sustainable shift to e-mobility

Alpine transport protocol signed

The transport protocol of the Alpine Convention has entered into force in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein and Slovenia, having been ratified by the EU over the summer. The Alpine Convention is an international treaty signed by the eight Alpine countries and the EU, aimed at protecting the Alps. Its transport protocol was agreed in 2000, and has a clause that states: ‘The contracting parties shall refrain from constructing any new large-capacity roads for transalpine transport.’ However, Italy held out against ratification until it was persuaded to sign a year ago, and Switzerland has refused to sign the transport protocol, leaving its legal standing in some doubt.

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