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  • All new infrastructure projects should be ‘climate rated’

    T&E has called for the EU to adopt a ‘climate rating’ scheme that would assess all transport infrastructure projects for their contribution to climate change before they are given EU funding. The call comes in the run-up to the review of guidelines for the EU to part-fund transport projects, and has involved T&E commissioning a study that provides the outline of a climate rating system.

    Up to now, EU funding for transport infrastructure has been largely focussed on the trans-European transport networks, with money coming from the TEN-T budget and other sources, notably the Cohesion Funds. The TEN-T fund is being renamed the ‘Connecting Europe Facility’ (CEF), and the guidelines for funding are being reviewed to coincide with the EU’s 2014-20 budget. The proposed €1 trillion EU budget is supposed to have at least 20% directed towards climate mitigation and adaptation goals.

    Apart from environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment, the environmental impact of a scheme is seldom taken into account, and environmental concerns are often overruled. T&E is therefore proposing a rating scheme whereby any proposed projects would have to pass an additional and independent test to evaluate their climate performance (in terms of greenhouse gas emissions). The idea is that the result of the rating would determine how much EU money the project would qualify for.

    T&E deputy-director Nina Renshaw said: ‘Much of the data required for climate rating should already be available and used for economic and traffic assessments. A rating system would allow us to see how transport spending would contribute to achieving emissions targets. Given how long into the future infrastructure projects will be used, it’s vital we find a way of assessing them for their climate impact, if Europe is to take its decarbonisation aims seriously.’

    T&E commissioned the Dutch consultants CE Delft to develop the basis for a methodology for a climate rating scheme. CE Delft looked at three different hypothetical transport projects – electrification of a rail line, construction of a new road, and introduction of a road pricing system – and calculated the expected greenhouse gas savings (or increases) based on a number of assumptions.