More than 65 countries have signed up to offset, but not reduce, aircraft emissions from international flights, starting in 2021. However, participation in the scheme until 2027 is voluntary and its coverage of emissions falls well short of the ‘carbon neutral growth in 2020’ target promised by UN aviation body ICAO and industry. The European Commission will now examine the agreement and decide what action to recommend be taken in light of the current suspension of the emissions trading system’s (ETS) coverage of flights into and out of Europe.
Campaigners in Poland believe they are close to persuading the government to expand the country’s road toll system for lorries. T&E’s Polish member Inspro is pushing for the existing system to become totally CO2-based – thereby discouraging the use of highly polluting lorries – and knows the Polish government is generally in favour of expanding road tolls, but it is still seeking the political will. The issue is important because the European Commission’s proposed revision of the Eurovignette directive next year could allow CO2-based tolling.
The European haulage industry and green groups have jointly called for stricter rules for vans as transport carried out by vans continues to increase. In a letter, the organisations ask that the Commission uses its upcoming road package to level the playing field between vans and trucks.
National regulators turning a blind eye to vehicle test cheating is the main culprit for the 29 million ‘dirty’ diesel cars on European roads today. On the occasion of the Dieselgate anniversary T&E launched a damning report showing that those 29 million cars and vans exceed by at least three times Europe’s legal NOx limits, known as Euro 5 and Euro 6. The vehicles, which grossly pollute the environment and cause thousands of premature deaths every year, were approved for sale by national type approval authorities, mainly in Germany, France and the UK.
A cross-party group of MEPs has called on the European Commission to table an ambitious proposal to reduce carbon emissions from trucks as soon as possible.
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.
The race to electrify mobility took an important step forward with a series of announcements from German carmakers on new electric cars and trucks. This coincided with a strong signal from the European Commission, through its Low-Emission Mobility Strategy, that electric vehicles, and not diesel-powered ones, have the principal role in decarbonising transport.
An agreement between EU governments and the European Parliament on the so-called ‘market pillar’ of the fourth railway package means the plan to open up domestic passenger rail to competition from 2020 will be ratified in autumn 2016 and countries will then have three years to implement it.