Earlier this year, the European Parliament voted on the renewable energy directive (RED). While the outcome was not ideal, we welcomed Parliament’s vote because it caps food-based biofuels, redirects investments into the fuels of the future (electricity, advanced biofuels) and ends support for palm oil biodiesel.
There are growing calls for a green tax shift to the transport sector, which would help fill a gap in the EU’s budget after the UK leaves. A T&E analysis has found new measures such as a carbon tax on motor fuels, aviation kerosene duty, and ending the VAT exemption for flights within and from Europe would raise more than €50 billion annually. And last week, as EU leaders discussed the looming gap, 17 eminent economists rowed in behind the idea, calling it a ‘once in a decade opportunity’ to create a fossil-fuel contribution to the EU budget.
Transport is Europe’s biggest climate problem, representing 27% of the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions. If Europe is to meet its climate targets and avoid the severe impacts of climate change, additional action is needed to tackle emissions from the transport sector. Meanwhile, the EU is drafting the post-2020 budget with a proposal expected in May 2018. The annual €10-14 billion gap that will be left as a result of the UK’s departure from the EU has triggered debate on alternative sources of revenue for the EU budget. This position paper outlines how a green tax shift has a key role to play in tackling transport emissions and addressing a gap in the EU's budget post-2020.
The European Parliament has once again voted to limit the support to biofuels made from food crops. If finally adopted, the use of biofuels from crops that could otherwise be used for food – including rapeseed, soy and sunflower – would be capped at 2017 national consumption levels and never higher than 7% of all transport fuels. Currently crop biofuels can be supported to a maximum of 7% of European transport’s energy needs.
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.
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.
Next week, the European Parliament will vote on a law to promote renewable energy from 2021 to 2030. This is key to meet EU’s climate goals.
But burning whole trees and food crops is not climate friendly and not sustainable. Still, 65% of the so-called ‘renewable’ energy we consume today in Europe is mainly bad bioenergy.
The World Bank has said it will stop all funding for oil and gas exploration projects within two years because of the need to tackle climate change. The announcement was made at last month’s ‘One Planet’ summit in Paris, aimed at reviewing progress two years after the 2015 Paris climate accord was agreed. Environmental groups have strongly welcomed the bank’s announcement.