The European Parliament has given a boost to the take-up of electric buses, with a vote that strengthens the bus chapter of the European Commission’s Clean Vehicles Directive. But with elections to the parliament due in May, it is now a race to get the directive approved before the legislative process would have to start again. T&E has since published a report showing that total cost of ownership of e-buses is now almost at parity with diesel buses when health external costs are included.
More weight has been added to the campaign to make large trucks safer for other road users, with a call by Germany’s transport minister that the proposed deadline for introducing safer technology be brought forward.
MEPs have sent a strong signal to EU governments that they want financial incentives to encourage the uptake of zero-emission trucks. In a vote in the full European Parliament last month, members from across all parties supported the European Commission’s proposal to give zero-emission heavy goods vehicles a 50% discount on road charges as part of an overhaul of road tolls in Europe.
Three years after the Dieselgate scandal was exposed, there are still 43 million highly polluting diesel cars on European roads. As EU industry commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska said at the first European Diesel Summit in Brussels last week, ‘the story isn’t over’. The timing couldn’t have been better to gather policy makers, cities, health experts, consumer groups and green NGOs from across Europe to discuss concrete solutions given that a special ministerial meeting has been convened by the European Commission for 27 November.
Powering Europe’s transport with fossil gas – widely known as ‘natural’ gas – would emit as much greenhouse gases as using petrol, diesel or conventional marine fuels, a new T&E report has found. Fossil gas cars also emit as much air pollution as petrol ones and their limited advantage over new diesels that comply with the latest emissions standards could be eliminated by the planned introduction of new Euro VII/7 standards, the research shows. Yet, by taxing gas for transport at a rates much lower than petrol and diesel, European lawmakers are incentivising the use of this fossil fuel.
European governments should hold off for now on signing up to a UN carbon offsetting scheme for aviation, according to an official EU proposal circulated last week – a copy of which was published by Politico. If agreed by a majority of member states, the EU member states of UN aviation agency ICAO would be required to reserve their position on the scheme and ‘file a difference’ with the agency before 1 December. This would protect the EU’s aviation climate legislation and gives the bloc time to fully evaluate the scheme before taking a final decision by 2020, as required by EU law.
MEPs will have the opportunity to ramp up the ambition of the EU’s first ever truck CO2 standards this week – a move sought by environmental groups and businesses alike. Tomorrow (14 November) the European Parliament votes on its environment committee’s proposal for a 20% reduction in truck CO2 emissions in 2025, and at least 35% in 2030. If carried the vote will send a strong signal to EU governments that the law needs to be more ambitious than that proposed by the European Commission.
The international shipping community has made little progress to advance the global commitment made earlier this year to reduce the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions. This is despite impassioned pleas for action by climate scientists to the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) environment committee last month. Delegates spent two weeks discussing procedural matters and timelines rather than concrete measures to decarbonise the sector. T&E said that some IMO delegates soon ‘would not have a country to land on’ due to global warming if this pace of activity continues.
MEPs and EU governments resume negotiations today on new car CO2 reduction targets, but two changes to the proposal sought by the Council threaten to drastically weaken the ambition of the crucial climate law.
Pressure on the European Commission to speed up the introduction of safer trucks has come from the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. In a letter to the industry commissioner Elzbieta Bieńkowska, Khan says the Commission’s deadline of 2026 for all new models to meet ‘direct vision’ requirements to allow truck drivers to see pedestrians and cyclists better is too late, adding: ‘We need to move quicker.’