2013 will – again – not go down in the history books as the year that Europe really got serious about tackling transport’s many environmental issues. On the headline level we actually see quite the contrary: the political focus is more on saving existing jobs than creating new ones, and the ‘climate and energy’ discussion is skewed more towards energy than climate than ever before.Geopolitically, Europe is moving towards North America and wants to conclude far-reaching free trade agreements with Canada and the US. There may be many good reasons for this, but we can only hope that a desire to emulate the North American model – relying on cheap and dirty fossil energy – is not one of them.
Progress towards new design and safety standards for lorries will be jeopardised if the European Commission backtracks on safety requirements, environmental and road safety campaigners fear.
A peak in air pollution brought a drastic change to transport habits in Paris for one day, following a combination of unseasonably hot weather and diesel cars fumes. No strangers to air pollution regularly exceeding EU limits, the authorities in the French capital banned all cars with even-numbered licence plates from entering the city on 17 March due to exceptionally high levels. The idea was to ban odd-numbered plates the next day, but that proved unnecessary as a 25% reduction in traffic and cooler weather brought pollution levels down.
The European Parliament and Member States, concluding final negotiations today on the new fuel infrastructure law, failed to set-out a clear pathway for a low-carbon European transport network. Transport & Environment expresses disappointment at this wasted opportunity, which contains no binding targets for low-carbon charging infrastructure and does little to help a transition towards sustainable e-mobility.
The European Parliament’s transport committee today voted to change rules for lorry cabins that could save hundreds of lives and reduce fuel consumption and emissions. The committee voted to give lorry manufacturers more design space for the front end, allowing a more streamlined nose and ending the era of Europe’s characteristically brick-shaped lorries.
MEPs from the socialist S&D group are still deciding on next week’s vote to only regulate CO2 emissions of intra-European flights which, T&E argues, effectively dismantles the aviation emissions trading system (ETS). The Parliament’s environment committee will consider the trilogue deal, which reflects EU governments’ giving in to pressure from third countries, the aviation industry and Airbus.
Last week saw Europe extend its dirtiest subsidy, the one that makes ultra-cheap air tickets possible, by at least another decade. That’s the simplest way to sum up new rules for state aid to regional airports and airlines. The text itself is, as usual, almost impossible to read for lay people, so in this piece I will try to paint the rules and their consequences as simply as possible.
State subsidies for regional airports and airlines serving them – mainly the low-cost airlines – will be allowed to continue for at least another 10 years, according to the Commission’s finalised guidelines on state aid for airports. The revised guidelines, which cannot now be challenged by MEPs, are ostensibly aimed at streamlining and tightening state aid for airports.
There are concerns for the future of lorry design proposals that would drastically improve road safety, after a vote in the European Parliament was postponed earlier this month. The Transport Committee will not decide until March 18 on the long-awaited rules governing driver visibility, lorry-crash performance and more aerodynamic, emissions-saving design.