To understand the grievous concerns about the safety of lorries on our roads you only need look at their record in my country, Britain. HGV accidents, especially those involving cyclists, are a key issue for transport in the UK at the moment. In London, lorries were involved in over half of cyclists' deaths even though they only made up 5% of traffic in both 2011 and 2012. HGVs were involved in 51% of fatal collisions on UK motorways – even though they only made up 11 per cent of motorway traffic in 2012.
Last week, the European Council composed of heads of states and governments reached an agreement on the EU’s climate and energy targets for post-2020. We ended up with three targets: greenhouse gas reductions of at least 40% with binding national targets; a 27% target for renewable energy; and a non-binding 27% target for energy efficiency. The deal is fraught with “flexibilities”, and includes significant money transfers to poorer and coal-dependent EU countries. But what does this deal mean for transport?
100,000 submissions to a public consultation is a lot on any subject, and particularly when the subject is the finer points of a proposed international trade deal. But having been extended for a week, the signs are that the European Commission’s public consultation on investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) has attracted a number of responses that could be in this region. It closed on Sunday, July 13th.
The EU took some small but welcome steps towards reforming its biofuels policy on 13 June when the council of energy ministers agreed a position. Clearly the content of this agreement - food-based biofuels capped at seven per cent of petrol and diesel sold, and weak national targets for advanced biofuels - is far from satisfactory as it is still fails to differentiate among the various types of biofuels and reward those with better environmental performance.
EU media has reported that the European Commission is planning to weaken the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD), a law to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of Europe's transport fuels by 6% by 2020, in order to appease oil industry, Canadian and US government lobbying. As is often the case, there is some truth to the reports on the FQD - but from the version of the draft proposal that T&E has seen, we can say that there are still some useful elements in this weakened text.
This article was first published in Parliament Magazine on 13 June 2014The Ukraine crisis highlights the urgent need to rethink Europe’s energy use and dependence. Two thirds of EU oil use is in transport, and transport itself is still almost 100 per cent dependent on oil. A third of the EU’s oil comes from Russia, entailing a massive capital transfer of around €100bn a year.
This blogpost was first published by the European Voice on 21 May 2014.Rarely have trade negotiations attracted as much attention and criticism as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has over the last year. There has been no spontaneous ‘boom’ in anti-trade sentiments. Rather, this criticism is due to the overreach being attempted here. With TTIP, the EU is trying something new that goes beyond the classic lowering of tariffs – which incidentally are already low in transatlantic trade.
European lorries, and in particular the cabins, look like oversized bricks with flat noses and blunt shapes. That wasn’t always the case. Not so long ago long-nose lorries thundered over European highways just like they do now in the US. However, it seems Brussels is now plotting the comeback of the more aerodynamic cabin.
2013 will – again – not go down in the history books as the year that Europe really got serious about tackling transport’s many environmental issues. On the headline level we actually see quite the contrary: the political focus is more on saving existing jobs than creating new ones, and the ‘climate and energy’ discussion is skewed more towards energy than climate than ever before.Geopolitically, Europe is moving towards North America and wants to conclude far-reaching free trade agreements with Canada and the US. There may be many good reasons for this, but we can only hope that a desire to emulate the North American model – relying on cheap and dirty fossil energy – is not one of them.