Last year was the one in which it became plain for everyone to see that transport had turned from being the grey sheep to the black sheep in Europe and the world’s efforts to improve the environment.
Who could have imagined that over the last year the oil industry would be facing so many radical changes and high-carbon tar sands would be having such a tough time? The year 2015 told us that these kinds of positive changes can happen rapidly when economics, citizen mobilisation and political leadership converge in the same direction.
Europe’s diesel cars received indirect subsidies totalling almost €27 billion last year through lower fuel taxes, a new study has found. Diesel fuel was taxed at, on average, 14 cent less per litre than petrol in 2014, according to Europe’s tax deals for diesel, which was published by T&E last month.
More than half of Europe’s oil refineries are ready to process ultra-high carbon tar sands, one of the most environmentally devastating fuels in production, according to a comprehensive report on Europe’s refining industry released today . Seventy-one out of Europe’s 95 refineries are now capable of processing heavy and/or pre-processed crude from tar sands, and have been mapped for the first time by Friends of the Earth Europe and Transport & Environment .
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed free-trade agreement (FTA) between the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) that, if completed, would be the largest bilateral FTA in the world, and transform transatlantic commerce. Trade volumes between the EU and US are very high, energy remains an important exception, largely due to the US ban or limit on crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports. Unsurprisingly the focus of EU negotiators is to end these limitations, but if the hope of cheap energy is one side of the coin, there is another: cheaper fossil energy means higher carbon emissions from increased consumption while crowding out renewable sources, all of which runs counter to the EU’s ‘40/27/27’ climate and energy targets for 2030.
The environmental direction of Canada’s new Liberal Party government is known – easily an improvement on Stephen Harper’s hostile Conservative administration. But the extent to which new prime minister Justin Trudeau (pictured) moves the G7 country away from its tar sands obsession remains to be seen. Particular concern surrounds his commitment to the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.
Europeans pay 14 cent more on average in tax for a litre of petrol than for diesel – indirectly subsidising diesel cars to the order of €2,600 per vehicle, a new study by sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) finds. This 30% tax gap in favour of diesel is a key reason for diesel cars’ majority share of new sales in Europe and leads to air quality problems where nine out of 10 diesel cars fail to meet NOx limits when driven on the road. 
The gap between petrol and diesel taxes in Europe is quite unique in the world and is the main reason why diesel engines have taken off in Europe and not worldwide. This study analyses fuel price and tax trends since 1980 and adds a specific analysis of diesel tax paid by trucks. It finds that in 2014 the gap in tax levels for diesel and petrol paid by motorists was €0.14/l, which is 30% lower than petrol per unit of energy or tonne of CO2.