An EU plan announced today is an ambitious attempt by the European Commission to boost renewables and efficiency to help Europe wean itself off Russian oil and gas. The plan proposes to speed up the electrification of public and company cars and vans, and to make trucks more fuel efficient. These are positive steps to speed up the transition to zero emissions transport and reduce dependence on Russian oil, says green group Transport & Environment (T&E).
However, the ‘REPowerEU’ strategy includes no measures to immediately implement oil demand reductions despite aiming to achieve a 5% reduction in short-term oil and gas demand. In addition, the strategy lacks detail on how measures to accelerate fleet electrification will be designed or how ambitious they will be. As it stands, REPowerEU will do little to prevent a simple shift from dependence on Russia to dependence on Saudi Arabia.
“The war in Ukraine shows the appalling cost of Europe’s oil addiction. This plan contains some good ideas to cut oil demand, such as a new law to electrify corporate fleets which would lock in oil demand savings while boosting the pool of affordable second-hand EVs across Europe. But as proposed, none of the measures will have a significant short-term effect. That means we remain ill-prepared for the proposed Russian oil embargo and carbon emissions won’t fall.” – Anna Krajinska, RepowerEU coordinator, T&E
The proposed 2023 package on greening freight transport can significantly reduce oil demand. While some efficiency measures have been proposed, such as aerodynamic devices for trucks, absent from the package are speed limits reductions for trucks to 80km/h, which would not only reduce fuel consumption but reduce costs for operators at a time when freight fuel costs are soaring.
The plan increases overall ambition on green hydrogen and specifically in the transport sector, with more than a doubling of the green hydrogen target in transport to 5.7%. While two Delegated Acts on renewable fuels of non-biological origin were announced, they were not included in the current proposal. These must set out stringent sustainability criteria and be made available soon.
“This Commission is bullish when it comes to hydrogen, but has failed to target aviation and shipping specifically. We’ll need to assess whether these new goals are achievable but one thing is perfectly clear: hydrogen should go first to sectors like aviation and shipping where direct electrification is not an option. In that sense, it’s disappointing that the Commission stands by its pre-war proposals to promote LNG in shipping with no clear ambition for hydrogen. The Commission should translate its high level political goals into action by supporting the German and Danish proposals to promote green hydrogen-based efuels in shipping.” – Anna Krajinska, RepowerEU coordinator, T&E
The Commission’s proposals to increase biogas production are worrying. As a recent IFEU report has shown, it is unrealistic to increase biogas production to 35bcm sustainably, as only 17bcm can be produced sustainably. Setting a 35bcm target risks food crops being used for biomethane production, causing further food price rises and potentially pushing even more people into food poverty, warns T&E.