The conditions under which electric vehicles could play a significant role in reducing climate changing emissions from transport have been set out in a new study for T&E and two other environmental NGOs. It says the source of the power for electric cars is crucial to their potential to fight climate change.
Expanding the EU’s Eurovignette directive to cover pollution, noise and congestion would not disadvantage peripheral member states and would bring net benefits of at least €2.3 billion a year.
Editorial by Jos Dings, T&E Director
Judging from press coverage of the Copenhagen climate summit, it was not just a disaster for the climate, but also for the EU. Many commentators said that the way the final deal was worked out, with the US and China basically ignoring the EU, was the final proof of the utter irrelevance of the EU on the world stage.
Environmental organisations have reacted with alarm to draft guidance from the Commission aimed at clarifying sustainability rules for biofuels. NGOs fear the guidance, if brought into effect, would lead to more greenhouse gases as a result of biofuel production, not fewer.
The Dutch oil company Shell says it is scaling down its expansion into oil from tar sands, amid signs that the environmental disadvantages of ‘unconventional’ oil sources are leading to fears that such oils could be economically unviable. While Shell says it has confidence in enough conventional sources of oil, soaring costs in the tar sands region of Alberta, where it has invested in an oil project, have made further investment there less attractive.
T&E has written to the Commission’s leading transport official to complain about political interference in the conclusions drawn from a research group on freight transport. The Freight Visions group has included input from a number of NGOs, including T&E, but the draft conclusions differ distinctly from many of the working groups. In a letter to Matthias Ruete, T&E director Jos Dings said, ‘Once again it appears that the research has been politically managed to ensure that conclusions fit neatly with the current policy approach ... It is unacceptable that such a project is approached with a political direction and a reduced level of ambition already in mind.’
A new study has suggested that investing in high-speed rail can bring various benefits, but should not be marketed as a major part of efforts to combat climate change. The study, 'The Future of Interurban Passenger Transport' by the Swedish transport economist Per Kågeson, calculates the effect on emissions from building a new high speed line connecting two major cities 500 kilometres apart. It says there is no reason to prohibit investment in high-speed rail on environmental grounds as long as the carbon gains outweigh the emissions during construction, but the greenhouse gas savings are sufficiently small that it would be wrong to justify such investment as a solution to climate change.
An opinion poll in Switzerland has shown 80% of Swiss citizens are against extra long lorries – generally known as 'mega-trucks' – being allowed to use Swiss roads. The poll, carried out by the Link Institute, questioned more than 1200 people, and looked at regional variations, showing 87% against in the Italian-speaking region of Ticino. This latest survey combines with similar results from opinion polls in France, Germany and Great Britain, which indicate a majority oppose 60-tonne lorries across Europe.
The European Investment Bank has suspended loans for the building of a motorway in Slovakia because the government has broken EU and national environmental laws. The decision follows complaints from the Slovak Friends of the Earth NGO that the proposed D1 motorway will go through two national parks and protected areas of the Natura 2000 network, despite a less damaging route being available. The NGO is also lobbying the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to reject making a €250 million loan until questions required under EU and Slovak laws have been answered.
A legal challenge against Berlin's 'environment zone' has failed. Eleven citizens and Germany's biggest car club ADAC had challenged the ruling that prevented the most polluting vehicles from driving in the designated zone. But in a written verdict published last month, the judges said the environment zone was 'reasonable' to secure the 'protection of the public's health from air pollution'. The judgement could prevent the Hannover environment zone from being abolished, which is being sought by the environment minister of Lower Saxony.