Beyond Transport – News in brief

Limits and limiters

study for the Commission shows that lowering the maximum speed limit in the EU to 80 km/h would cut greenhouse gas emissions from road traffic by 4-6% and reduce road deaths by 5%. The study also says speed limiters and intelligent speed adaptation systems (ISA) can make a significant contribution to road safety and reducing emissions. Devices limiting the speed of vans to 90 km/h have already reduced road deaths by 9%, and reducing the speed to 80 km/h would cut CO2 emissions and road deaths by another 5%.

Cut costs, but not by avoiding regulations
 
The Clean Shipping Coalition, which includes T&E and other NGOs, has warned that a drive to cut paperwork could undermine the effectiveness of environmental regulations. The warning from the coalition – as well as Pacific Environment, the European Environmental Bureau, Friends of the Earth US, and the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition – came at the end of a six-month consultation on how to help ship operators and national administrations reduce their administrative costs. Industry-wide attacks on environmental regulations that apply to shipping have fuelled fears that the push to reduce paperwork and administration is a convenient excuse to weaken or avoid such regulations. 
 
Warsaw walkout

Around 800 activists from non-governmental organisations walked out of this month’s UN climate talks in Warsaw in protest at how lobbying by fossil-fuel industries was slowing any meaningful progress. NGOs were already outraged by the prominence given to the Polish coal industry at the ‘COP19’ conference, and with the way progress was hampered by other industrial interests.

Accessibility of electric charging points

T&E has welcomed amendments by MEPs to focus more on the accessibility of charging points for electric vehicles across Europe. The Commission proposed 800,000 publicly-available charging points; the European Parliament’s transport committee reduced this to 456,000, but said greater emphasis should be put on their accessibility. But MEPs placed no obligation on member states to encourage a fixed number of privately-operated charging points.

EIB lending criteria

The European Investment Bank says it cannot give more weight to climate concerns when deciding which projects to lend money to until the EU formally adopts new policies for 2030. Environmental groups have long criticised the EIB for lending to infrastructure projects that contradict EU environmental goals, but the bank says it cannot base its lending rules on targets set out in the 2050 low-carbon roadmap as this has no legal status.

Cohesion Fund spending

An analysis of Cohesion Fund lending by CEE Bankwatch says the EU will miss its commitment to spend 20% of its budget on climate-related actions. The central and eastern European NGO says the 20% goal will only be met if Cohesion Fund money matches this target, but its analysis of the draft spending plans of eight countries shows seven of the eight would fall well short of the 20% mark.

MEPs approve tripling of EU transport spending
 
MEPs have approved the Commission’s much-debated 2014-2020 budget, which includes €26.3 billion for transport infrastructure. The new Connecting Europe Facility will help to realise the long-awaited transport infrastructure policy, under which nine major corridors will form the backbone for transport in Europe’s single market. Environmental NGOs have been concerned that insufficient conditions have been attached to the use of EU money in order to guarantee that they only fund transport schemes that help Europe achieve its sustainability and carbon-reduction targets.

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