You are buying a house and want to know the basics. Is the roof ok; can you borrow sugar from the handsome neighbour; is this house going to end up killing you in the most insidious way? The latter isn’t information you will get from even the most honest of estate agents. But it might soon be a question you will ask, thanks to some pioneering research from an Italian T&E member that maps the spread of toxic NO2 fumes, mainly from diesel vehicles.
Biofuels are top of the EU agenda these days. And that’s not just because we’re headed for the final trilogue discussions on the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) but also because of biofuels interfering with Europe’s trade relations. Led by Indonesia and Malaysia a group of countries are threatening the EU with Trump style trade wars after the European Parliament voted to disqualify palm oil biodiesel from the EU’s clean fuels regulation after 2020. At the same time the EU is trying to negotiate a series of trade deals with a number of these countries.
When we talk about transport’s climate problem, we usually talk about cars, trucks, planes and ships as the big issues. But, of course, they’re only part of the story. The heart of the problem is not the vehicles or the mobility they provide, but the pollution they cause by burning oil.
Countries will meet at the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law this week, in the UN’s famous New York City building, to discuss modernising the mechanism that enables foreign firms to sue governments for what they perceive as unfair policy measures that can harm future profits. This is commonly known as investor-state dispute settlement, or ISDS. The European Commission’s proposal to reform this archaic system will form the core of the discussions.
As the Commission unveiled their 2nd Mobility Package and proposal to cut new car and van CO2 emissions, the latest data from the European Environment Agency (EEA) reconfirms that transport is Europe’s biggest climate problem. Worse, transport greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the EU have risen for the third year running.
It is with a heavy heart that I write this last editorial for the T&E Bulletin, having led this wonderful organisation since 2004. The obvious question to ask now is ‘Have we made a difference?’
This blogpost was first published by the European Voice on 21 May 2014.Rarely have trade negotiations attracted as much attention and criticism as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has over the last year. There has been no spontaneous ‘boom’ in anti-trade sentiments. Rather, this criticism is due to the overreach being attempted here. With TTIP, the EU is trying something new that goes beyond the classic lowering of tariffs – which incidentally are already low in transatlantic trade.
2013 will – again – not go down in the history books as the year that Europe really got serious about tackling transport’s many environmental issues. On the headline level we actually see quite the contrary: the political focus is more on saving existing jobs than creating new ones, and the ‘climate and energy’ discussion is skewed more towards energy than climate than ever before.Geopolitically, Europe is moving towards North America and wants to conclude far-reaching free trade agreements with Canada and the US. There may be many good reasons for this, but we can only hope that a desire to emulate the North American model – relying on cheap and dirty fossil energy – is not one of them.