This blogpost was first published in the European Voice.Looking back at 2013, it has been a terrible year for those Londoners who decided to cycle around the city. 14 bike-users have been killed so far this year, 9 of them by HGVs, and despite even Olympic cyclists calling for immediate action, nothing concrete has come out of this tragic toll. In wider Europe, the EU estimates that 4,200 people are killed by lorries annually – a disproportionately high number considering how few lorries are on the roads.
MEP Phil Bennion invites you to participate in a conference debate on the benefits to road safety, cities, hauliers and the environment of proposed updates to the weights and dimensions of lorries. The conference will take place on 29 January from 17h00 - 18h30. The debate will be followed by a cocktail.
It is a sign of the times that even the British Lords in the House of Lords have accepted that noise is a major problem. After recent noisy protests outside their building, some Lords were forced to flee their chambers, while others reported physical illness. For them, the culprit may be noisy protests, but for many people (44% of EU citizens to be more precise), this noise disturbance comes from vehicles.
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).
A deal between EU officials, MEPs and member states on measures to reduce road noise from vehicles means Europeans will have to wait another 30 years to enjoy a quieter life. The deal, agreed earlier this month, waters down a Commission proposal that had already been criticised for being too weak and too late. T&E says the deal is ‘disgraceful’ as it puts the interests of the carmakers ahead of the health and welfare of Europe’s citizens.
The introduction of longer and heavier lorries (LHVs) could lead to more CO2 and pollutant emissions, increased road accident risk and higher infrastructure bills for taxpayers. These impacts are contrary to the EU’s objectives to make transport cleaner and safer. By making road transport cheaper, it will also undermine the EU (Transport White Paper) goal of shifting freight to rail. Therefore, T&E believes the introduction of LHVs is unacceptable under the present conditions.
Traffic noise is the second-biggest environmental factor affecting Europeans’ health after air pollution. Almost half of EU citizens are regularly exposed to road traffic noise over the level that the World Health Organisation considers to pose a serious risk to health. Noise pollution has been linked to 50,000 fatal heart attacks every year in Europe. This briefing outlines the European Commission, Parliament and Council positions on a proposal for new vehicle noise standards ahead of a third round of trilogue negotiations on 5 November, 2013. It also outlines T&E's analysis of the main issues as well as its recommendations for a compromise that avoids legal and technical loopholes.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published its fifth report on global warming, concluding it is 95% certain that climate change is human-induced. However, it will not release its detailed analysis of transport’s contribution to climate change until Working Group III’s report on mitigation of climate change is published, possibly in April 2014.
The IPCC findings, published last month, were widely reported, but one of the world’s leading broadcasters, the BBC, has been criticised for giving ‘false balance’ to climate sceptics in its coverage of the report.
In a secret session, European Union member states today delayed for the third time a vote to rubber stamp a deal to limit emissions from new cars to 95g CO2/km by 2020. This June, the European Parliament, the Commission and EU governments struck a fairly negotiated deal confirming the 95g target.
In this open letter to the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the EU, Transport & Environment and Greenpeace call on the Presidency to fulfil its role as neutral and unbiased chair, follow the wish of the vast majority of member states and the two other EU institutions, and put the agreed deal to reduce CO2 emissions from new cars to a vote.