The European Union relies on foreign companies to supply 80% of its oil imports, according to a new study on the continent’s oil dependency. Russian firms supply more than one-third (36%) of imported crude, and just two of the top 10 oil suppliers to the EU are European – Shell and Norway’s Statoil.
The French president has reiterated his call for a European carbon tax on the EU’s borders to guarantee fair competition for companies taking action to reduce their climate impact. The idea – which featured in T&E’s report, Can trade and investment policy support ambitious climate action?, last month – has been gathering momentum and was previously endorsed by IMF chief Christine Lagarde and Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman.
An enforceable set of sustainable development requirements should be written into all free trade agreements that the EU concludes. That is the recommendation from a paper by T&E which draws on research conducted two years ago when discussions on the ‘TTIP’ EU-US trade deal were at their height.
The EU’s current trade policy could undermine Europe’s goal of decarbonising transport by encouraging the consumption of unsustainable biofuels, a new report has found. With free trade talks between the EU and the Mercosur countries ongoing, there are serious concerns that the removal of trade barriers in energy and raw materials could lead to an increase in imports of unsustainable biodiesel from Argentina – if sustainability safeguards are not put in place. The report says there is a need for coherence in EU trade and climate policies.
The ability of rail freight to reduce congestion and pollution on roads is far greater than previously thought, according to figures from one of T&E’s British member organisations. The figures suggest that integrated rail and road planning is a better option for reducing the environmental impact of road transport than expanding road capacity.
The controversial EU-Canada free trade agreement (CETA) has received the backing it needs to provisionally enter into force on 1 March. Last week the European Parliament voted in favour of the deal by 408 to 254 votes – despite serious concerns that it privileges private investors and does nothing to support Europe and Canada’s climate commitments.
By Cécile Toubeau, better trade and regulation directorWHAT WE LEARNED IN 2016: It has been a bumpy year for European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. No one predicted the UK’s decision to leave the EU. Nor could the polls foretell the outcome of the US election, with Donald Trump winning on a largely anti-trade ticket. Both of these events came in response to the uneven sharing of the spoils of globalisation; a disproportionate share of the gains has ended up with the global elite, while median wages stagnate or decline.
Some of the world’s most valuable forests are still being destroyed in order to make palm oil, of which a considerable portion ends up as biodiesel for use on Europe’s roads. That is the striking message from an investigation by a global alliance of NGOs, including T&E, that has uncovered horrific deforestation in Indonesia’s pristine rainforest in the remote province of Papua. T&E says this highlights the urgent need for the EU to correct the anomalies in European legislation that allow climate-harming biofuels to count towards climate targets.