Last year was the one in which it became plain for everyone to see that transport had turned from being the grey sheep to the black sheep in Europe and the world’s efforts to improve the environment.
While the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) continued its essential work to develop a global market-based mechanism to cut the sector’s emissions, by far the biggest highlight of 2015 was the Paris COP21 summit.
Last year I learned that the so-called 2030 ‘Effort Sharing Decision’ (ESD) for which the Commission will be making a proposal before Summer 2016, can be extremely important for reducing emissions in the transport sector.
The Paris ‘Conference of the Parties’ 21, the most important climate conference since the failed Copenhagen one of six years ago, is nearing an outcome. The dramatic 13 November events in the city has surely added grit to France’s determination to succeed, and has forged some unusual alliances. There is some hope that the spirit of togetherness – not just against terrorism but also to tackle that other global threat which the COP is about – will help in forging a transformative deal.
Europe’s diesel cars received indirect subsidies totalling almost €27 billion last year through lower fuel taxes, a new study has found. Diesel fuel was taxed at, on average, 14 cent less per litre than petrol in 2014, according to Europe’s tax deals for diesel, which was published by T&E last month.
EU approval of Ireland’s €42.5 million in state aid to small regional airports has been criticised for allowing public money to prop up underutilised infrastructure with questionable social and economic benefits. Four airports will receive the grants over the next four years – while the Irish government faces calls to address ‘chronic’ underinvestment in low-carbon public transport.
The EU is facing calls to work with the US government to ensure global standards being developed to regulate aviation’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are effective – after the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) finding last month that emissions from aircraft endanger human health.
Pope Francis has made a powerful contribution to the build-up to December’s crucial climate change conference in Paris, by publishing a papal encyclical calling for people to change their lifestyles in an effort to combat global warming. It comes at the same time as a finding from health experts that climate change is such a threat to human health that tackling it would be a ‘no regret’ option.
Transport is not the most innovative of sectors so when the top people of Uber, Google, Nokia, Zipcar and BlaBlaCar got together at the International Transport Forum in Leipzig last week, there was an air of excitement. The picture they painted was of a radically different transport system, revolutionized by the internet, mobile phones and autonomous, electric driving. What this could mean for people was captured well by Philippe Crist from the OECD. He estimates the advent of the digital age could reduce the number of cars by an eye-popping 90% in urban areas.
Environmentalists have warned Europe’s policymakers that they need to ensure the environmental integrity of the current EU ETS for aviation is not abandoned in return for nothing from the global aviation industry. The caution followed comments by the airline trade association, IATA, that a global market-based mechanism to tackle aviation’s carbon emissions won’t be ready by 2016 as agreed.