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.
Two new reports have highlighted the dangers of governments delaying action to limit transport emissions. A study from Germany says economic growth will be much harder to achieve if international action to cut climate-changing emissions is not achieved by 2015. And a study from the UK on how carbon emissions from aircraft contribute to global warming has also stressed the importance of acting now, not in several years.
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.
On 3 July, the Commission released draft new guidelines on State aid to the aviation industry. Citizens have until 25 September to comment. T&E estimate that about €3bn a year goes to the aviation industry across the EU and the Airports Council International (ACI) have estimated that airports under-recover about €4bn in airport costs a year.
While all eyes in Brussels are usually focused on three leading actors – the Commission, Parliament and Council – there are several other lesser-known EU institutions playing supporting roles. In the wings we have the EU Court of Auditors, which has repeatedly published scathing – and revealing – reviews on the use of EU funds for transport infrastructure. But will the stars of the EU show listen to their critics before the spotlight is turned on the new transport spending policies?