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.
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.
It’s true to say, as Grist.org’s Ben Adler does, that fuel taxes play a critical role in cleaning up road transport but we’re not in agreement that this necessarily makes road pricing a bad idea. From our perspective, we’d rather see it as a complementary measure.
It now seems that the revision of the Energy Tax Directive (ETD) is dead. Given how negotiations have been dragging on for three and a half years while only eating away at everything the Commission proposal sought to achieve, it is probably good to call it a day and start afresh.
It is a sign of the times that even the British Lords in the House of Lords have accepted that noise is a major problem. After recent noisy protests outside their building, some Lords were forced to flee their chambers, while others reported physical illness. For them, the culprit may be noisy protests, but for many people (44% of EU citizens to be more precise), this noise disturbance comes from vehicles.