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If sustainability and the protection of our environment are everybody's responsibilities, why are they part of nobody's mission letter?

T&E's reaction to European Parliament's hearing of Commissioner-designate for Environment Mr Karmenu Vella. Today’s two-hour grilling of Commissioner-designate for Environment Mr Karmenu Vella revealed how critically important 'Green 10' demands are for anchoring sustainability higher in the Commission’s organisational chart. A first, important move will be to give one Vice-President the formal responsibility for sustainability, stressing the need for a VP to be held accountable for delivering sustainable development. 

EU law to boost alternative fuels infrastructure is ‘dead letter’, NGO says

The Council of the EU today passed the infrastructure for alternative fuels law, failing to boost the development of a low-carbon European transport network. The enacted law drops all binding targets for electric charging points or hydrogen. Transport & Environment has said the law is a ‘dead letter’ because it will do nothing to set a level playing field for alternative fuels to fairly compete with oil in transport energy, and called for a broad strategy for clean e-mobility.

Direct-vision lorries to save hundreds of lives – study

An 80cm longer cab with a rounded nose, smaller dashboard, expanded glazed areas and a slightly lower driver position could drastically reduce fatal blind spots [1] around the lorry cab, a new study by the Loughborough Design School [2] reveals. The ‘Direct Vision’ lorry concept would increase the driver’s field of view in front and to the sides of the lorry by 50% compared to today’s lorry designs and could save hundreds of cyclists’ and pedestrians’ lives. 

Cars and CO2 law spurs automotive innovation as electric vehicle sales double in 2013

Sales of electric vehicles (EVs) have doubled annually in Europe since they were first marketed in 2010, the electrification section of T&E’s cars and CO2 report reveals. In 2013, provisional sales data from the European Environment Agency show that nearly 50,000 plug-in vehicles were sold, representing around 0.4% of all car sales in the EU.

France scales back lorry toll

France’s Assemblée Nationale approved a scaled-down toll for lorries, which will do little to improve logistics efficiency as well as lorries’ environmental and health impacts. The decision goes against a wider trend of expanding or introducing ambitious lorry km-charging schemes in other countries like Germany, Poland, Austria and Belgium. 

Ministers seal a modest reform of EU biofuels policy

Energy ministers today finally agreed to change the EU’s biofuels policy. After more than a year of talks, the Energy Council says it wants to limit the amount of food-based biofuels to 7% of petrol and diesel sold. Without policy change, around 8.6% would likely come from such biofuels; the Commission proposed a stricter limit of 5%. The deal also further weakens the reporting of biofuels emissions resulting from indirect land-use change (ILUC).

Ministers reject megatrucks but stall safer lorry designs for 8 more years

EU transport ministers decided today to delay changes to the weights and dimensions rules for lorry cabins, which would allow safer and more fuel efficient lorries to be produced [1]. Under Franco-Swedish pressure, ministers regrettably agreed to ban the introduction of safer and cleaner lorry cabs from Europe’s roads for at least eight years. In a more positive note, ministers rejected a proposal to allow megatrucks to cross borders.

EU governments’ agreement allows biofuels debate to progress

European governments today gave the green light to a political deal to amend the EU’s biofuels policy. The compromise by ambassadors, which must now be signed off by energy ministers, caps the use of food-based biofuels that are eligible to count towards carbon reduction targets to 7% of transport fuel – higher than the original 5% cap as proposed by the Commission in 2012, and not much below the 8.6% expected under the original 2020 target.

First delivery of devastating tar sands arrives in Europe

The first shipment of highly polluting Canadian tar sands oil to Europe is due to arrive in Spain tomorrow (Thursday May 29). Environment groups Friends of the Earth Europe, Transport & Environment and Greenpeace warn that this delivery provides a snapshot of Europe’s energy future – a continued addiction to ever-dirtier oil.

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