When French investigators swooped on Renault last week to seize computers, it was yet another stark illustration of the systemic failure of car testing in Europe. Their investigation is linked to the Volkswagen emissions scandal, where national testing authorities failed to detect or even investigate the cheating – despite being made aware of the exceptionally high on-road emissions.
In the last few days several announcements have demonstrated how the initial exposure of Volkswagen’s cheating US tests is merely the tip of an iceberg of test manipulation.
The prospect of Volkswagen being fined $18 billion for manipulating air pollution tests in the US caused its shares to fall 22% and is sending shock waves through the automotive industry. VW has been ordered to recall nearly 500,000 cars, meaning a massive bill to correct the vehicles and potential class action claims for compensation. After initially refusing to comment, CEO Winterkorn issued a statement saying he was “very sorry”. The evidence suggests he will not be the last head of a carmaker offering apologies in the next few months as other manufacturers will be found making use of “defeat devices” for tricking laboratory tests.
The gripping Solar Impulse flight, and the news that Airbus has patented a plane that can fly from Paris to Tokyo in under 3 hours, shows that 100 years after the Wright Brothers, the aviation industry remains one of the few industries that can ignite our imagination with new ideas. It's essential though that this deep commitment to innovation is fully targeted at cleaning up of air travel.
This blogpost was first published as a comment by EurActiv
When people think about American trucks, the image that springs to mind is a massive Coca-Cola truck with a big nose. These massive rigs don’t seem particularly efficient and for a long time Europeans made fun of the big-nosed US mammoths. Some European manufacturers even boasted about how they sold out-dated technology in the US. This is about to change.
This blog was first published as a commentary by Business Green
As the crowds admire all the new aircraft and high-tech displays at Paris Bourget this month, it's important to remember that the aviation sector faces a serious and growing challenge if it is to adequately rise to the climate change challenge.
This blogpost was first published by EurActiv
As air pollution spikes in Europe’s cities prompt car-free days and talk of banning diesel cars, it’s easy to forget the other culprits behind the air quality crisis: diesel machines. Known in legislation by the innocuous term ‘non-road mobile machinery’, their air pollutant emission limits are now finally under revision.
It’s true to say, as Grist.org’s Ben Adler does, that fuel taxes play a critical role in cleaning up road transport but we’re not in agreement that this necessarily makes road pricing a bad idea. From our perspective, we’d rather see it as a complementary measure.
The European Commission’s latest contribution on the investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) scheme is a disappointing, recycled 12-page document that visibly struggles with the contradiction that is inherent in claiming that ISDS under the EU-Canada trade deal (CETA) is of the highest standard while also acknowledging that the problems with ISDS under TTIP are far from resolved.
The Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) was first proposed in early 2007 as part of the so-called “integrated approach”, to ensure that the oil industry would also contribute to the fight against climate change. Its implementation has been frequently and quietly delayed until the end of 2014 due to massive amount of lobbying by oil interests. Most of the work was conducted via the rather “obscure” comitology procedure and most of the controversy centred on whether or not there should be a specific carbon intensity value for oil produced from tar sands – a dirty source of oil which lingers in large reserves under the boreal forests of Canada. Here is a brief history of how Canada and the oil industry weakened this key piece of European environmental legislation behind the scenes and how the Commission finally gave in to special interests.
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