By Bill Hemmings, aviation and shipping directorWHAT WE LEARNED IN 2016: 2015 ended with big promises from the UN aviation and shipping bodies, ICAO and the IMO, that they’d finally act to rein in their sectors’ substantial and growing climate impact. It has been almost 20 years since they were first tasked with doing so by the Kyoto Protocol, and 2016 would be their last chance.
By Greg Archer, clean vehicles directorWHAT WE LEARNED IN 2016: After many false dawns, 2016 is the year electric cars showed they are on a path to rapidly replacing the infernal combustion engine. There are now more than half a million battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles on Europe’s roads, and annual sales are expected to top 1.5% of the market for the first time. While the figures are modest, Dieselgate has created an EV earthquake, shaking carmakers from their complacency.
By William Todts, freight and climate directorWHAT WE LEARNED IN 2016: “So what did you learn in 2016? And could you write a blog about it?" asked our communications officer.Silence. My God, where do I start, I thought. First Brexit, then Trump, and before all that there were people bombed on the metro in my hometown. What a year! But I can't write a doom and gloom Christmas blog.Then somehow I started thinking about this one thing that had really surprised me. A year ago I was campaigning to get the EU to introduce truck CO2 standards and, frankly, things weren’t looking great. Yes, there had been the Paris agreement, but still the odds were stacked against us. The Commission just didn't want to budge and the truck industry seemed all-powerful.
By Cécile Toubeau, better trade and regulation directorWHAT WE LEARNED IN 2016: It has been a bumpy year for European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. No one predicted the UK’s decision to leave the EU. Nor could the polls foretell the outcome of the US election, with Donald Trump winning on a largely anti-trade ticket. Both of these events came in response to the uneven sharing of the spoils of globalisation; a disproportionate share of the gains has ended up with the global elite, while median wages stagnate or decline.
The European Parliament at the plenary session in Strasbourg today voted to start exposing Europe’s incumbent passenger rail companies to more competition but falls short of ensuring Europeans will get better, cheaper train trips in the near future. Sustainable transport group, Transport & Environment (T&E), thinks today’s vote is a small step in making rail more efficient and customer-focused so as to attract more people onto trains.
This briefing outlines the need for EU legislation to deal with the issue of incumbent rail operators denying access to service facilities such as ticket machines or services desks for new market entrants. T&E welcomes the Commission’s proposal as it is important to improve the functioning of the railway market. We believe that this legislation could play a significant role in changing the dynamics of the European railway market and improving services for both passengers and shippers.
The European Commission have earmarked over €100 billion to spend on transport infrastructure in the current EU budget. The Commission also have committed to a 60% reduction in transport emissions before 2050. Meanwhile, transport emissions continue to rise across the continent. European countries have established national climate targets under both the Paris agreement and the ESR. If we are to meet such climate targets then investments will need to be made in order to succeed with our goals. Change goes where the money flows: if we are to decarbonise our transport sector then EU spending will need to play a larger role in ensuring that. Speakers:Branislav Urbanic (The European Court of Auditors)Martin Lange (Umweltbundesamt, The Germany Environment Agency)Stephane Ouaki (DG Move, European Commission)Pia Nieminen (European Investment Bank)Markus Trilling (CAN Europe)Sebastien Godinot (WWF)
The United Nations Environment Programme says making walking and cycling safer is vital for reducing pollution and climate-changing emissions. A new UNEP report notes the contribution of road transport to global warming and air pollution, yet almost half the 1.3 million people who die each year in traffic accidents are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists – transport users who generate fewest emissions.
More than 65 countries have signed up to offset, but not reduce, aircraft emissions from international flights, starting in 2021. However, participation in the scheme until 2027 is voluntary and its coverage of emissions falls well short of the ‘carbon neutral growth in 2020’ target promised by UN aviation body ICAO and industry. The European Commission will now examine the agreement and decide what action to recommend be taken in light of the current suspension of the emissions trading system’s (ETS) coverage of flights into and out of Europe.