In response to congestion and high local pollution cities are increasingly using vehicle access restrictions to limit the number of cars on their roads and ensure those which grossly pollute are not allowed in. Following the dieselgate emissions scandal (that exposed the failure of modern diesel vehicles to adequately control toxic fumes when operated on the road), there is a new focus on deploying Low Emission Zones and Diesel Bans. Today there are around 40 million grossly polluting diesel cars and vans on the EU’s roads but national vehicle approval authorities remain reluctant to mandate manufacturers to implement fixes.
As diesel sales slump and those of electric vehicles pass one million, batteries are fast becoming a major part of the EU’s industrial future. It is not just talk this time. Investment is happening: LG Chem is planning for production in Poland and Samsung SDI is doing likewise in Hungary; NorthVolt has just signed a large loan to build a demo plant in Sweden, and Saft, a subsidiary of Total, announced a battery consortium with Siemens, Solvay and MAN. Amidst all this, the environmental benefits of electric cars are under intense scrutiny with news articles on this a regular feature in most EU countries. So, do electric cars reduce car CO2 emissions or do they just shift the problem elsewhere?
The EU should fill its post-Brexit budget gap with new revenues from taxing transport, which is Europe’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, former Italian prime minister Enrico Letta, ex-WTO head Pascal Lamy, former finance minister of Germany Hans Eichel and 14 other economists have told EU leaders. In advocating a green tax shift, they called for a higher minimum tax on road diesel, VAT on airline tickets for the first time and taxing aviation kerosene which is currently exempt. Sustainable transport group Transport & Environment welcomed the letter, citing its own analysis that such a green tax shift would generate additional revenues of more than €50 billion a year which would allow for the income tax burden to be reduced.
Shifting to zero-emission vehicles in Europe will create jobs and drive economic growth, a major new study released today by Cambridge Econometrics for the European Climate Foundation reveals. The analysis, endorsed by Transport & Environment (T&E) and a host of corporations, including from the motor industry, found that moving away from vehicles powered by oil to ones driven by renewable energy will create 206,000 net additional jobs by 2030.
The revelations that VW, Daimler and BMW commissioned research that forced monkeys and healthy human subjects to breathe toxic diesel fumes in a perverted attempt to prove their cars were clean is abhorrent. The methods bear shocking similarities to the tactics of the tobacco industry that funded research to disprove cigarettes were harmful with the explicit goal to undermine evidence from the World Health Organisation. It reveals a blurring of moral standards in German carmakers that starkly contrasts with the glossy brands the companies spend a fortune cultivating.
EU countries today agreed to strengthen rules governing how cars are approved for sale in Europe, with the goal of preventing another dieselgate. Sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) welcomes the decision but warns that only proper scrutiny and real enforcement of the new rules will prevent carmakers from cheating again.
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.
*See footnotes for quotes in French and GermanThe European Commission’s announcement of CO2 targets for cars and vans today is a gift to Europe’s carmakers and fails to tackle the EU’s biggest climate problem, transport, campaigners Transport & Environment (T&E) said.
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 T&E's report on why Europe’s obsession with diesel cars is bad for its economy, its drivers and the environment.