Pour tenter de prouver que leurs voitures étaient propres, Volkswagen, Daimler et BMW ont payé des recherches au cours desquelles des singes et des humains ont dû respirer des fumées toxiques de diesel. C’est odieux. Ces pratiques font ressortir la morale douteuse des constructeurs allemands, et contrastent avec l’image de marque qu’ils entretiennent soigneusement à grand renfort de marketing.
Car CO2 emissions – as measured in the laboratory – continued to decline in 2016 despite a fall in the share of diesel car sales, according to official figures released today by the European Environment Agency. Average car CO2 emissions declined by 1.4 grammes of CO2 per km to 118.1g/km. Sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) said most carmakers remain on track to achieve 2020/2021 targets but will need to accelerate emissions reductions – including by selling an increasing share of electric cars – in order to do so.
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.
The continued use of high-emitting biofuels to power Europe’s cars and trucks is up for decision in the European Parliament next week. In deciding the Parliament’s position on reform of the Renewable Energy Directive, MEPs will be asked whether European drivers should be obliged to burn massive quantities of food crops in their fuel tanks until 2030.
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.
Sales of battery electric vehicles in Europe are expected to rise from around 126,000 to 200,000 this year, according to forecasts from the car industry. The figures indicate a growing realisation by carmakers that they need to engage with electric vehicle technology to meet emissions standards.
The increase in UK new car CO2 emissions by 0.8% in 2017 reported by the UK industry arises mainly from a shift to larger SUV and dual-purpose vehicles rather than from declining diesel sales that the UK car industry association (SMMT) claims.
National governments and MEPs have reached a provisional deal on Europe’s key climate law which will cover about 60% of the Europe’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The Effort Sharing Regulation, now renamed the Climate Action Regulation, provides flexibilities and loopholes that could see Europe miss its 2030 target. The law sets binding national emission reduction targets for the 2021-2030 period for sectors not covered in the emissions trading system, mainly: road transport, buildings, agriculture and waste.
Whilst the rest of the economy has leapt forward to embrace digitalisation, transport has remained largely analogue. The internal combustion engine, a workhorse from the 19th century, stills powers virtually all vehicles using oil that chokes our cities and heats the planet.
EU governments must step back from irreparably weakening Europe’s biggest climate law, six of Europe’s leading environmental NGOs have said, after talks between member states and the European Parliament ended in deadlock this week. The proposed Effort Sharing Regulation sets binding national emission reduction targets for the 2021-2030 period, but governments are insistent on loopholes that would actually result in hundreds of millions of tonnes in additional CO2 emissions.