It is with a heavy heart that I write this last editorial for the T&E Bulletin, having led this wonderful organisation since 2004. The obvious question to ask now is ‘Have we made a difference?’
This blog post was originally published as an opinion article by Politico
After many false dawns the electric car is finally on a trajectory to replace the internal combustion engine.
What to do with biofuels? This simple question has given many European policymakers huge headaches for a decade now. Two subsequent, dragged-out legal processes to first promote them (2006-2009), and then to contain food-based ones (2012-2015) left no-one happy. NGOs warned that the problems were still not solved, while industry maintained that all investment security was gone.
The Commission is currently drafting its “road initiative”, which consists of two main objectives: one is the protection of the rights of truck drivers and the other is a promotional mechanism to encourage a cleaner freight transport system. If done properly, this will have a positive impact on ending the exploitation of foreign truck drivers while also reducing CO2 emissions from road transport. However, vans simply bypass all of these laws and, if the Commission fails to address this, it could open the door to the further exploitation of drivers and result in dirtier and more congested roads.
Last week’s deal reached at ICAO, the UN agency, to establish a global offsetting programme for aviation received a mixed response, yet it was heralded by industry and some policymakers as the dawn of sustainable aviation.
Last week I was in Hannover for the IAA2016, the twice-yearly truck fair. This is the place where European truckmakers exhibit their new models and score a few political points in front of the assembled press.
Quite a few of my truck industry colleagues approached me and urged that I check the latest edition of Lastauto Omnibus, a truck testing magazine. Judging from their big smiles, there was an article in there that they all liked a lot.
ICAO is about to proclaim mission accomplished in its 20-year search to appear relevant in the fight against aviation climate change. An impressive list of ministers and notables has gathered in the organisation’s Montreal headquarters to help break out the champagne. Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc, leading the EU delegation, summed up the aim: “To defend the deal on the table as the lowest common denominator, that is our target.”
Our work area, European policy for cleaner, smarter transport, is not one that typically sets newspaper headlines alight. For starters, acronyms like ILUC (indirect land-use change, from biofuels) or WLTP (the new test cycle for car emissions) tend to kill mainstream media interest. The ever-expanding Dieselgate scandal is the rare, rather unfortunate, exception, and it confirms the old adage: ‘if it bleeds, it leads’.
Against the backdrop of the eye-watering $15 billion settlement for Volkswagen in the US, the silence from the company in the face of calls for compensation in the EU is deafening. Here VW claims it hasn’t broken any EU laws and most governments are dancing to its tune. An excellent report published by the UK Parliament's transport select committee into Dieselgate nails the hypocrisy of VW’s claim of innocence by asking: why did VW apologise for its misconduct if it now denies any wrongdoing?
Back in 2014 I wrote a blogpost saying that truckmakers behaviour smelled of cartel. At the time, the truckmakers had just successfully torpedoed a proposal to allow – not mandate – smarter, safer and more fuel-efficient truck designs. It was quite a surreal experience with truckmakers opposing more design freedom saying it would upset “competitive neutrality”. Our joint position with hauliers was: “who cares, we want more competition so bring on the new cabs”. But truckmakers rallied their friends in the member state transport ministries and managed to postpone the enabling of new designs to after 2020.
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