· MEPs also back tightening cap on aviation emissions.Support from ports and cargo owners for last week’s vote by MEPs to include shipping emissions in the EU emissions trading system (ETS) has been sharply criticised by shipowners. The European Community Shipowners' Associations (ECSA) said it ‘deplores’ the shipping industry’s backing for Europe regulating ship CO2 as a ‘first move’ to kick start action at global level. Shipping in Europe has CO2 emissions equal those of the Netherlands.
France’s national Court of Auditors has been fiercely critical of the country’s government and MPs for allowing the French heavy goods ‘ecotax’ to be abandoned. The tax was first suggested as part of an exploration of environmental ideas in 2008 and approved by MPs in 2009, but in November it was abandoned after a series of protests. The Court of Auditors says that the decision was ‘a strategic failure’ and ‘a mess’ that will damage the public finances and the credibility of the country’s transport policy.
The German state of Schleswig-Holstein says it will pioneer a 6km stretch of electronic highway by the end of 2018. As part of its efforts to reduce the environmental impact of goods being transported by road, it says it will dedicate part of the A1 motorway between Reinfeld and Lübeck to be used by lorries powered by electricity via overhead cables.
Fears that a new diesel emissions scandal is already happening across much of Europe have resurfaced following a documentary on German television. The scandal is believed to involve around 20% of lorries operating from eastern Europe, and is generating around 14,000 tonnes of additional nitrogen oxides, making it twice the size of the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal of 2015 that involved the German carmaker Volkswagen.
MEPs from the internal market committee (IMCO) became the latest group to back reform of the flawed and obsolete type approval system for cars which is at the heart of the Dieselgate scandal. The vote came as details emerged of special treatment for Fiat vehicles in tests conducted by Italy’s official investigation into Dieselgate.
A new UK government report has cast doubt on the short-term benefits of driverless cars. The Department for Transport study predicts a “decline in network performance” once one in four cars become driverless. It said early models of the vehicles acted more cautiously and the result could be a “potential decrease in effective capacity” on motorways and A roads. The study did, however, note that should driverless vehicles make up between 50% and 75%, they will reduce congestion.
New real-world emissions tests for modern petrol engines have been backed by EU governments. However, the tests will allow a conformity factor of 50%, meaning new petrol cars will be allowed to exceed current limits on particulate emissions by half – to take account of uncertainties in the test procedure. Governments agreed to stick with the September 2018 proposed date for all new cars to comply with the rules.