We want the EU to be a global leader in reducing the environmental impacts of transport. We believe Europe should have the lowest levels of greenhouse gas emissions and air and noise pollution from transport; the cleanest vehicles, planes and ships; transport policies that encourage efficiency and smart behaviour, and pricing that makes polluters pay for pollution, not society as a whole. Below is an overview of our main areas of work.
Air is essential for life but polluted air can kill. In spite of the existing legislation, air pollution remains one of the major environmental problems in Europe. In order to protect its citizens and its environment, Europe needs strict and enforced air pollution legislation. Sector-specific legislation, such as for road vehicles (cars, vans and trucks), diesel machinery (construction machinery, inland water vessels and locomotives) and seagoing ships, is key to achieving clean air in Europe. The EU urgently needs to tighten its road, diesel machine and ship emissions legislation.
The EU has long been a global force for cleaner transport. As a first mover, its standards have not only benefited citizens but given European industry a huge advantage by setting examples in transport regulation that are often replicated by emerging markets. Recently there have been moves by some to slow down or stop this trend – through trade deals like TTIP and CETA and EU initiatives such as ‘REFIT’ and the Better Regulation agenda. This campaign aims to retain and, where possible, improve Europe’s ability, and willingness, to legislate for the common good in general, and for more sustainable transport in particular.
If left unchanged, EU legislation promoting biofuels for transport will lead to higher, not lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. T&E and other environmental organisations are campaigning for Europe to address the environmental impact of indirect land use change (ILUC) caused by biofuel production. Read the drivers & impacts of Europe's biofuel policy, download our briefing on ILUC and take a look at our report into how the EU could manage the impact of an ILUC-based policy on existing biofuels production.
One of the most important steps Europe can take to save drivers money, combat climate change, and create high-tech jobs is to require carmakers to produce more efficient vehicles. In 2008, the EU introduced legally-binding CO2 standards, for the first time setting a goal that, on average, new cars sold in Europe in 2015 should emit 130 grammes of CO2 per kilometre. This weak target has been met early, and most carmakers are on track to meet the 2021 goal of 95g. Half the improvement results from carmakers manipulating the obsolete test that must be replaced in 2017. The Commission also needs to make a new proposal for 2025 standards for cars and vans in 2016.
Trucking poses a major challenge for the environment and road safety. Around three-quarters of freight in Europe is delivered by lorry, and road freight transport is one of the sub-sectors of the transport industry with the fastest growing CO2 emissions and fuel use. Every year the EU imports around 500 million barrels (€60bn) of oil to fuel its lorry fleet, which makes the EU economy vulnerable to oil price fluctuations.
As well as improving the efficiency of vehicles, the world needs to reduce the emissions that result from the production of transport fuels. That means improving refinery efficiency, cleaning up the dirtiest sources like tar sands and coal-to-liquid and stopping wasteful gas flaring.
In the European Union, there are two main tools to reduce greenhouse gases, which are responsible for climate change: the EU emissions trading system (ETS) and the Effort Sharing Decision (ESD).
The EU ETS covers between 40-45% of all GHG emissions and it includes most of the power sector, large industries and currently intra-EU flights. Installations under the EU ETS need to surrender allowances equivalent to their annual emissions. Allowances are either received for free, bought in public auctions or traded with other installations.
To get to a sustainable low carbon economy by 2050, Europe needs to cut emissions from transport by at least 60% compared to 1990: that’s a cut of 70% compared to today’s emissions. This presents a very serious challenge, in particular for freight, where increasing truck traffic, modal shift from rail to road and stagnating lorry fuel economy have dominated the last two decades.
Shipping is one of the fastest growing sources of transport greenhouse gas emissions, and is also a major source of air pollution causing health problem, acid rain and eutrophication. Like aviation, the sector's international emissions were excluded from the 1997 Kyoto climate targets with responsibility instead handed to a UN global regulator, the IMO. T&E works, together with other members of the Clean Shipping Coalition, to reduce the air pollution and climate impacts of shipping globally and in Europe.
The way we test cars and trucks in Europe is obsolete and opaque. First, there’s an obsolete laboratory test for emissions that has not changed since the 1990s and is easy to manipulate and cheat with today’s more advanced IT technology. Then there’s an opaque so-called “type approval” system whereby new vehicles and automotive components are tested to ensure they comply with EU safety and environmental rules. Once approved these may be sold without restrictions throughout the EU single market.
Fuel bills represent one third of the total cost of ownership of a van and high oil prices make fuel an increasingly important business cost. At the same time vans are one of the fastest growing sources of CO2 emitted from transport, increasing by 26% between 1995 and 2010 and now accounting for 8% of road transport emissions. To improve fuel efficiency and counter rising emissions, binding CO2 standards for vans were agreed in 2010. For 2020 a target of 147 g/km (5,6 l/100km) was agreed.
T&E wants the EU to tighten the fuel efficiency targets for vans to 118 g/km or 4,5 l/100km - equivalent to the corresponding 2020 target for cars. This would double the fuel savings compared to the 147 g/km target to €825 per year.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), noise is second only to air pollution in the impact it has on health. It is a major cause, not only of hearing loss, but also of heart disease, learning problems in children and sleep disturbance. Yet traffic noise could easily be halved, with existing technology, if more stringent limits were adopted. T&E is working at the EU and global level for tighter restrictions on sources of transport noise including cars, lorries and trains.