The recent European Commission proposal on CO2 regulations for cars and vans to 2030 has provided the car industry with an early christmas gift. The unambitious 3%pa improvement rate and removal of a binding sales target for zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) followed last minute lobbying by carmakers. With Vice President Sefcovic, and the architects of the package Commissioners Cañete, Bulc and Bienkowksa all aligned in favour of a system of credits and, crucially, debits for carmakers that exceeded or breached a ZEV sales target, the package was virtually finalised before a last-minute intervention diluted the proposal.
On 8 November the European Commission has the opportunity to transform the European car industry and keep Europe safe and competitive in a decarbonised world. On that day the EU executive will propose a law that regulates the fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions of new cars and vans. The choices it makes – what level of ambition, a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate or not, 2025 target or not – will determine the future of the European and global auto industry.
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.
Coal or oil. That was the question facing ‘a young man in a hurry’ who had just been put in charge of the British navy. A century ago coal-powered steamships were the proven technology. On the other hand, there was a new technology: the internal combustion engine (ICE). Proponents of the ICE said it would be faster, healthier for the crew and operated by far fewer people which made it a lot cheaper to run. Of course it wasn’t a 100% proven technology. It was new. Would it always work? And would there be enough oil?
Greg Archer & Julia Poliscanova of Transport & Environment (T&E), first published in EurActiv.There is a long history of bruising Brussels battles between left & right, or NGO’s & industry, over car emissions rules with millions of tonnes of emissions savings and billions of euros in investment at stake. The co-decision for the Commission's proposal for post 2020 car and van CO2 targets is shaping up to be another epic fight and a flick through MEPs amendments show strong divisions both between and within political groups. Member states are equally divided with Germany sitting on the fence and new, less corporate friendly, Governments in Spain and Italy expected to change the complexion of the Council debate.
“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.
Environmental destruction costs human lives too. On 8 December an NGO friend phoned me up with the shocking news that Colombian community leader and land claimant Hernán Bedoya had been assassinated, reportedly by paramilitary groups. It was a tragic reminder that campaigning to stop deforestation is as much about protecting the livelihoods and homes of the communities that have been living in those habitats for centuries as it is about combating climate change and protecting endangered species.
The increase in UK new car CO2 emissions by 0.8% in 2017 reported by the UK industry arises mainly from a shift to larger SUV and dual-purpose vehicles rather than from declining diesel sales that the UK car industry association (SMMT) claims.
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.
The Commission is currently drafting its “road initiative”, which consists of two main objectives: one is the protection of the rights of truck drivers and the other is a promotional mechanism to encourage a cleaner freight transport system. If done properly, this will have a positive impact on ending the exploitation of foreign truck drivers while also reducing CO2 emissions from road transport. However, vans simply bypass all of these laws and, if the Commission fails to address this, it could open the door to the further exploitation of drivers and result in dirtier and more congested roads.