Carmakers’ plan to cut road transport emissions washes their hands of responsibility and ignores cost effective vehicle standards that will lower fuel bills for drivers, create jobs and lower oil imports. The need for vehicles CO2 targets is the key conclusion of a new study from the ICCT, the group which tipped off the US EPA about Volkswagen’s cheating last year. The study finds early introduction of standards for trucks and stringent new targets for cars and vans would alone result in CO2 savings of 17.4% on 2005 levels by 2030, making a sizable contribution to meeting EU targets to reduce emissions in non-ETS sectors.
In 2014, 45% of all the palm oil used in Europe ended up in the tanks of cars and trucks, data from EU vegetable oil industry association Fediol and obtained by green group Transport & Environment has revealed. This is equivalent to four Olympic-size swimming pools of palm oil every day.  It’s the first time that the sources of biodiesel in Europe have been made public.
This briefing details the feedstock used in biodiesel in Europe between 2010 and 2014. It is based on official industry data from Fediol obtained by T&E. The analysis shows that all of the 34% growth in EU biodiesel since 2010 comes from imported palm oil. The expansion of these plantations into natural rainforest is both having a devastating impact on biodiversity and causing net greenhouse gas emissions, to the effect that palm oil biodiesel is three times worse for the climate than fossil diesel.
Electric vehicles are becoming more and more competitive, mainly because battery prices have fallen 65% since 2010 and are forecasted to fall to $230 per kWh in 2017-2018. Batteries are also becoming more powerful as they gain in energy density. Moreover, these improvements were recently reinforced by other significant developments: the unveiling by Tesla of its Model 3 is making high-spec electric cars more accessible; and the Netherlands, Norway and Germany’s public support for the rollout of electric vehicles.
The NGVA claims that natural and biogas are the only viable routes to clean up road vehicles, especially trucks. Even if we would ignore the issue of methane leakage – and that is not a good idea – the potential for natural gas remains limited.
A Portuguese regional airport that was expanded with large amounts of EU funding has announced plans to turn itself into an aircraft parking facility because demand for the airport has fallen badly short of predictions. The case highlights T&E’s call for greater scrutiny of public money being used to prop up carbon-intensive, underutilised infrastructure with questionable social and economic benefits.
A leading economist is warning that if the world does not take the action required by the Paris climate agreement, it will have to make a dangerously sudden adjustment 10-15 years from now which will have massive costs.
Tesla has fired the starting gun in the race to build the ‘second generation’ of electric vehicles by unveiling its Model 3, a small luxury sedan with a range of around 350km and, at $35,000 US selling price, half the price tag of its earlier models. The Model 3 is expected to go into production late in 2017.
The phenomenon of indirect land-use change (ILUC) is an even bigger cause of emissions from regular biofuels than first feared. That’s the dramatic finding of a study for the European Commission that was published last month after much delay.