Climate law kicks off Commission’s Green Deal programme

The EU’s proposed new Climate Law is the ‘kick’ that Europe needs to fully decarbonise transport. That is T&E’s response to the draft of a new law that will require all EU countries to be climate-neutral by 2050. T&E says the 2050 target will speed up existing efforts, and welcomes the European Commission’s commitment to investigating the viability of a kerosene tax for aircraft.

The Climate Law was launched by the Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on 4 March. She described it as ‘the legal translation of our political commitment’ and ‘the heart of the European Green Deal’. It is intended to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050

T&E believes the law will inject momentum into current initiatives that are aimed at decarbonising transport but are moving very slowly. T&E’s executive director William Todts said: ‘Climate neutrality means the transport sector must finally take seriously its journey to a zero-emissions future. But this is about so much more than carbon emissions. The Green Deal offers a chance for Europe to become energy sovereign, lead in cleantech and offer a better future for all. Because of the Coronavirus we are now heading for a major economic shock. We can only emerge from the coming crisis stronger if we stick to the Green Deal agenda.’

Todts added: ‘We have set out our vision for transport under the Green Deal, and the Climate Law is the kick that Europe needs, but the action won’t just happen – the Commission will need to present policies to make its vision reality, and there must be no more excuses for slowing the transition.’

T&E’s vision calls for stronger car CO2 standards and a combustion engine phase-out that will help the European car industry win the technological race. It says purchase requirements for zero-emissions vehicles in high-mileage fleets will clean up company cars and ride-hailing services.

There should be a 40% CO2 reduction target for all trucks to end decades of no progress on truck fuel efficiency and to cut costs for businesses, T&E says. Meanwhile, carbon pricing and fuel taxes can help put a stop to aviation emissions growth while airlines should be required to start using cleaner fuels.

T&E vision also calls for an ambitious operational CO2 standard for ships calling at EU ports to cut shipping emissions by almost a quarter. Phasing out EIB lending to airports, fossil-fuel vehicles, and combustion car factories would put investment policy in line with our Paris goals and provide capital to assist plant restructuring, it states.

One significant announcement alongside the Climate Law launch was that the Commission has begun the early stages of the legislative process to tax aviation fuel. Airlines currently pay no tax on their fuel for international flights, but the European Green Deal undertook to review that. T&E said that the absence of climate progress in the shipping sector should be addressed by including its pollution in the EU emissions trading system (ETS), which the Commission had already pledged to do.

Todts added: ‘The aviation sector is going through a very rough period. But we can’t have corporations demanding public support in bad times if they don’t pay taxes and contribute to the climate effort during the good times. No-one is proposing a new tax on airlines to take effect right now, but once the recession is over this anomaly of tax exempting the fastest growing climate problem should end.’