It’s a question I get asked a lot: so are you having any success in greening transport in Europe? I presume not. There are still an awful lot of cars around, aren’t there?
At the end of the 2013 ‘Year of Air’, environmental organisations took a look back at what the European Commission has achieved in terms of air quality and, more importantly, looked ahead to the next steps for 2014 and beyond. With this assessment, Transport & Environment, AirClim, ClientEarth, the European Environmental Bureau, and the Health and Environment Alliance examine where we stand compared to the start of the year and ask whether there are tangible signs of EU action.
Yes, this editorial has an unlikely title. If you have been following us, or the issues we work on, a little bit, the overwhelming impression is that things have been scaled back (emissions-trading aviation), postponed (the Fuel Quality Directive, possibly NOx from ship engines, truck CO2 emissions) and watered down (CO2 from cars, biofuels).
Black carbon, or soot particles from diesel engines, could be making a much larger contribution to climate change than previously believed, according to a study by over 30 internationally recognised climate scientists. The study, Bounding the role of black carbon in the climate system: a scientific assessment, says black carbon is second only to carbon dioxide as the most important warming gas, with a greater impact than methane. The study’s lead author said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its 2007 assessment, gave a value to the role of black carbon that was only half of what this new study suggests it is. The authors believe that if efforts to reduce black carbon emissions were maximised, it could mean up to half a degree less warming or two decades of delay in current predictions about global warming.
The current Commission is on track to have one of the worst-ever environmental records of any EU administration. That is the view of the group of 10 Brussels-based environmental NGOs (‘Green 10’), whose mid-term assessment of José Manuel Barroso’s second Commission says it would not win any medals and is acting to protect the environment even less than his first Commission (2005-09).
Road transport is again dragging down efforts to reduce air pollution across the EU. The latest report on compliance with the directive that sets National Emissions Ceilings for four pollutants shows 10 countries and the EU as a whole failing on nitrogen oxides emissions, largely because road transport is failing to deliver expected cuts.
[mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]Proceedings from the April 2004 seminar on economic instruments, hosted in Brussels by T&E.