This is the fifth in a series of eight snippets about how to decarbonise land freight by 2050. Based on a new T&E study, the series will culminate in a public debate in Brussels in September.
About a week ago Ursula von der Leyen, Germany’s defence minister, was nominated to lead the next European Commission having emerged as the compromise candidate after a lengthy European Council meeting. As this op-ed goes to press Von der Leyen, or VdL as she is now known, is busy drumming up support for her candidacy in the European Parliament. She can count on the EPP (her group - she is a member of Germany’s CDU) but will need to convince MEPs of the social democrat (S&D) and liberal (Renew) groups.
Recently the gas sector has been playing up the role of or renewable gas in decarbonising the European Economy. The industry says biogas, biomethane, renewable hydrogen and renewable methane – supported through policy – can help bring about a decarbonised economy. This lobby offensive is gaining some traction, with the Romanian presidency and 17 other EU countries launching a declaration claiming gas networks are needed “to accommodate increasing shares of near-zero carbon hydrogen and renewable gases”. Amongst all that talk of “green gas”, one question beckons: have people been paying attention to the biofuels debacle at all?
Ten months. That’s all it took for Europe to agree its biggest ever climate package for trucks. By EU standards that is miraculously fast. But it was the culmination of a radical change in approach that has taken place over the last nine years. Until 2016 the European Commission’s mantra was that the trucking market was a rational one, the implication being that increased transparency through a new test procedure and consumer demand would do the trick. Then the Commission’s stance changed abruptly.
On Monday, EU lawmakers may finally reach a deal on truck CO2 emission standards and on the first ever sales targets for zero and low-emission trucks. Electric trucks will benefit hauliers and society as a whole, but an ambitious sales benchmark will be needed to make sure truckmakers actively sell affordable and reliable models.
Put yourself in the place of a truck driver in a busy city centre. Would you rather (a) see cyclists and pedestrians directly through the windows of your vehicle or (b) have a sensor that lights up on the dashboard when there’s a cyclist or pedestrian very near you – but is invisible due to poor truck cab design?
The European Commission made its proposal in to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from heavy duty vehicles (HDVs) such as trucks and buses in mid-May. The file is currently being debated by the European Parliament and Council, and MEPs are set to vote on it next week. It’s an important piece of legislation: HDVs account for 26% of road transport emissions in the EU and, as leading companies point out, these emissions can cost-effectively be reduced by at least 20% with technologies that are available today or will soon be.
Last spring Daimler/Mercedes, the world’s number one truckmaker, was caught with its pants down by the Deutsche Post DHL Group. During a testing day organised by DP-DHL, which was presenting its self-developed electric van, the StreetScooter, one of its vehicles being trialled by potential customers went way outside the test drive area, with its GPS showing it was en route to Stuttgart.
“As expected” mumbled Commission president Juncker when an aide passed him a note saying Trump had decided to impose tariffs on European steel and aluminium. The American administration had been playing with the Europeans for nearly two months but threats of retaliation, offers of new trade deals (TTIP light), and a grand visit from the French president had done nothing to dissuade US president Donald Trump.
Last week I was in Munich for the so-called LKW-Gipfel; a summit of Europe’s truck industry executives. The Gipfel had an impressive line up. But before the CEOs of MAN, IVECO, Volvo and Scania delivered their keynotes, Matthias Wissmann, the German automotive industry’s (VDA) chief lobbyist, was given the stage.