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?
Powering Europe’s transport with fossil gas – widely known as ‘natural’ gas – would emit as much greenhouse gases as using petrol, diesel or conventional marine fuels, a new T&E report has found. Fossil gas cars also emit as much air pollution as petrol ones and their limited advantage over new diesels that comply with the latest emissions standards could be eliminated by the planned introduction of new Euro VII/7 standards, the research shows. Yet, by taxing gas for transport at a rates much lower than petrol and diesel, European lawmakers are incentivising the use of this fossil fuel.
More investment in public charging infrastructure needed after 2020 as electric vehicle sales increase.Press release from the Electromobility Platform.Contrary to mainstream belief that there are not enough electric vehicle chargers and that this is discouraging potential EV buyers, a new analysis reveals sufficient public recharging facilities for the number of cars on the road in 2017 in many countries. Furthermore, if national EV infrastructure roll-out plans are met there will also be sufficient EV chargers until 2020.
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.
Transport has taken over from power generation as the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US – and the situation is likely to get worse as the Trump administration plans to weaken emissions standards. T&E says the policy will only damage US carmakers. Transport has been the single biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in Europe since 2016.
Ahead of the Communication on the European Energy Union with a forward-looking climate policy, NGOs wrote to the College of the European Commission asking it to pay special attention to the decarbonisation of transport. They ask commissioners to include a comprehensive strategy for electrification of transport as one of their priorities for moving Europe further down the road of climate and energy security and towards reducing its global land foot-print.
Ahead of its discussion on the EU’s key priorities for the next decade, seven stakeholder organisations from industry, transport and cities wrote to the College of the European Commission regarding the creation of a European Energy Union with a forward-looking climate change policy. They called on the commissioners to focus on the transport sector, which represents about a third of the EU’s overall energy consumption and is almost exclusively dependent on imported fossil fuels.
Earlier this week, Violeta Bulc, the EU’s head of transport, announced plans to develop a Europe-wide scheme to charge lorries and cars for using roads. Bulc clarified that the scheme would be optional, meaning that countries like the UK could opt out if they want to. The Transport Commissioner also stressed that the amount of the fee should be based exclusively on the distance driven and should not be time-dependent, which would bolster more efficient use of roads.
The European Commission has gone back on a series of commitments to reduce the environmental impacts of road vehicles. T&E says the climbdown carries the fingerprints of lobbying by the automotive industry, but will not help Europe’s car makers in the long term.