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How to fix a biofuels policy: a guide for the European Parliament

This week six committees in the European Parliament will vote on the Commission’s proposal to address indirect land-use change (ILUC) emissions related to the EU’s biofuels policy. This is all in the run up to the vote in the leading committee - Environment, Public Health and Food Safety on 10 July and the plenary vote in September. It is unusual that so many committees are deciding on such a technical file at this stage in the process. So, this blog is a little guide for busy Members of the European Parliament on what is really important to keep in mind when thinking about the environmental, social and economic implications of the EU’s biofuels policy.

‘Historic’ agreement on TEN-T guidelines

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.

EU Environment Agency figures show 2020 reduction target was ‘weak’

The EU has reached its greenhouse gas emissions target for 2020 nine years early. Figures released by the European Environment Agency (EEA) show emissions in 2011 were almost 20% lower than those in 1990, the ‘baseline’ year for the EU’s reduction targets. T&E says the figures show the 2020 target was not strict enough, and they make the case for investments in low-carbon technologies during times of economic downturn.

Wastes, residues and co-products for biofuels and bioliquids

Sketch of a book (default image for publications

The Commission's proposal on biofuels, published in October 2012, introduced additional incentives for biofuels from wastes and residues. These biofuels can count four times towards the 10% target for renewables in transport. However, the proposed framework is not in conformity with waste legislation, nor adapted to the biofuel context. It also leaves residues and co-products undefined, instead opting just to include an incomplete list of raw materials in an annex without description or clarification. This briefing note, written by Tim Grabiel of Défense Terre, examines the treatment of waste, residues and co-products for biofuels and bioliquids within the Renewable Energy Directive and Fuel Quality Directive and suggests a different classification of these materials.

Airlines' call for global emissions deal not convincing

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade body comprising 240 airlines worldwide, today finally acknowledged the need for a global market–based measure to reduce aviation's contribution to climate change. IATA called on their airline members to encourage their governments to agree at this year’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Assembly on a global carbon offsetting measure to take effect in 2020.

Europe’s vans to be speed limited now and more fuel-efficient by 2025

The European Parliament’s environment committee has sent a strong signal that it wants Europe’s vans to be more fuel-efficient than they are now. MEPs voted for a carbon dioxide emissions limit of between 105 and 120 g/km by 2025, down from 181 g/km in 2010. The 2025 target would equate to fuel consumption of 4 to 4.5 l/100km. The specific figure should be defined in 2017. The committee also voted to limit the speed of all new vans to 120 km/h from the start of next year.

America must lead global fight against aviation carbon pollution

International aviation is on course for a rough landing in our warming world. Air travel is growing rapidly -- and so are aviation emissions, which are already responsible for 5 percent of the warming effect of global greenhouse gas emissions.

'Decoding' the Polar Code

In this second of two blog posts, policy officer for clean shipping, Antoine Kedzierski looks back at the origins of the Polar Code, the international code of safety for shipping in Polar waters, the recent International Maritime Organisation (IMO) decision on the environmental chapter and what a robust Polar Code should look like.

MEPs set standard for 2025 new cars

MEPs have sent a signal that car makers will have to meet fuel efficiency targets by both 2020 and 2025. Although the decision still has to be confirmed by the full European Parliament, EU member states and Commission, the move lays down a marker that the average new car should need less than three litres to drive 100km by 2025. Environmental groups have welcomed the vote, but say it does not go far enough to drive zero-emission cars into the market. 

ICAO looks like wasting EU’s gesture

The EU has finalised the text of its ‘stop the clock’ concession on the inclusion of emissions from intercontinental flights in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme, although the chances of the gesture being wasted by members of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) look greater with each day that goes by.

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