• ‘Resource efficiency’ the new buzzword in Commission workplan

    The Commission has confirmed it will publish a new white paper on EU transport policy next year. The announcement came as part of the Commission’s workplan for 2011, which is aiming to make resource efficiency a priority.

    The work programme mentions climate change just once, instead concentrating on terms such as ‘low-carbon economy’, ‘energy security’ and ‘a resource-efficient economy’. It says the work ‘will take time to develop, but the first fruits will consist of an overall approach setting out how energy, transport and the promotion of a low-carbon economy can today be put on the road to transform the EU economy by 2050’.

    The white paper on the future of the Common Transport Policy, which is already in an advanced state of preparation, is likely to be aimed at ‘examining the completion of the European transport area to provide an efficient, seamless infrastructure around a core network, building on innovation to achieve low-carbon transport’.

    The first transport white paper came in December 1992, and was updated in 2001. The 2001 paper was broadly welcomed by environmental campaigners for making commitments to making the polluter pay and encouraging a shift of freight traffic from road to rail. But while the paper is supposed to guide EU transport policy, many developments in the years following 2001 contradicted some of the environmental promises made in the paper.

    Explaining its commitment to using resources sensibly, the work programme says: ‘The aim will be to build progressively a framework based on resource efficiency, to include the shift to a low-carbon society and which sets sectoral policies – including energy, transport and the management of natural resources such as agriculture and fisheries – within a long-term sustainable framework.’

    Nina Renshaw, Transport & Environment deputy-director, said: ‘Whatever the commission wants to call it, low-carbon, energy-secure or resource-efficient, a coherent approach must include concrete measures to reduce emissions from transport. This must encompass full internalisation of external costs, completing the tentative steps forward in the Eurovignette revision, measures to finally tackle shipping emissions, closing the fuel tax and VAT loopholes enjoyed by aviation and a smarter targetting of EU money to support a transition to clean energy use in transport.’

    The Commission is asking for comments on the development of its ‘roadmap’ for a low-carbon economy by 2050. One study suggested transport emissions could drop between 1990 and 2050 with the right measures. The consultation ends on 8 December – see https://ec.europa.eu/clima/consultations/0005/index_en.htm