It is with a heavy heart that I write this last editorial for the T&E Bulletin, having led this wonderful organisation since 2004. The obvious question to ask now is ‘Have we made a difference?’
A year on from the Paris climate accord, the EU is putting its attention into mechanisms to reduce Europe’s greenhouse gases. The biggest of these climate laws, the so-called Effort-Sharing Regulation, is now under attack from a group of governments led by Italy and Poland. The push to halve the EU’s 2030 climate efforts comes as a new report says transport, buildings and agriculture emissions would need to be close to zero in 2050 to keep global warming below 2°C.
A total decarbonisation of the transport sector is possible. So says the findings of a 10-year German government-led project to find practical ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Spearheaded by the Öko-Institut, the ‘Renewbility’ project looked at solutions for all of Europe and its work was supported by German and Swiss-based research institutions but also by T&E’s German member VCD.
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 European Commission has proposed a mandatory Transparency Register aimed at allowing the public to know which decision-makers are meeting with which lobbyists. The proposal extends existing rules on declaring lobbying to MEPs and the Council of Ministers, but a leading anti-corruption NGO says the changes are ‘timid and cosmetic’.
Europe should trust its democratic processes in scrutinising the proposed Canada trade deal (CETA) and not try to scare governments and the European and national Parliaments into ratifying the EU agreement. That was the message of civil society groups in a letter to the European Commission’s director-general for trade, Jean-Luc Demarty, after he said the bloc’s trade policy will be “close to death” if it cannot ratify the deal.
This summer, the European Commission will present a new legislative proposal on the Effort Sharing Decision (ESD) for the post-2020 period. Around 60% of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the non-ETS sectors, such as surface transport, agriculture, waste and buildings.
Following the result of the UK referendum to leave the EU, the Green 10 – 10 of the leading environmental networks active at European level – said the result was a blow to the values of openness, inclusiveness, tolerance, respect and commitment to sustainability that the EU represents. In the coming debate on how the EU will live up to these values, it must become better in making the case for the values and benefits EU policies have brought for its citizens’ health and wellbeing, the Green 10’s directors wrote in letter to presidents Juncker, Tusk and Schulz, and Prime Minister Rutte. These include cleaner air, water and beaches, thriving wildlife, safer substances and green energy, to name but a few. These benefits should be communicated loud and clear and all the time.