This opinion article was first published by EurActiv.
As diesel sales slump and those of electric vehicles pass one million, batteries are fast becoming a major part of the EU’s industrial future. It is not just talk this time. Investment is happening: LG Chem is planning for production in Poland and Samsung SDI is doing likewise in Hungary; NorthVolt has just signed a large loan to build a demo plant in Sweden, and Saft, a subsidiary of Total, announced a battery consortium with Siemens, Solvay and MAN. Amidst all this, the environmental benefits of electric cars are under intense scrutiny with news articles on this a regular feature in most EU countries. So, do electric cars reduce car CO2 emissions or do they just shift the problem elsewhere?
Earlier this year, the European Parliament voted on the renewable energy directive (RED). While the outcome was not ideal, we welcomed Parliament’s vote because it caps food-based biofuels, redirects investments into the fuels of the future (electricity, advanced biofuels) and ends support for palm oil biodiesel.
This opinion article was first published by EurActiv.
Transport is Europe’s biggest CO2 emitter and journeys by plane form a significant part. Many member states exempt tickets for domestic trips from value added tax (VAT) and all states exempt intra-EU airline tickets. The exemption for aviation costs governments some €17 billion annually. Even the European Commission calls these exemptions subsidies.
No one likes being misled by airlines, not on price, or where their luggage ends up. But fliers face a new risk: being misled on how sustainable their flights are. In a few years, fliers could be told that some of their ticket price is being used to prevent deforestation when in reality those forests had been cut down years ago. That’s because in 2016 countries meeting at the UN’s aviation agency (ICAO) agreed to establish a scheme to offset aviation emissions above 2020 levels, but left it uncertain as to whether they would deliver on this promise. The scheme, known as the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), means airlines won’t have to cut their CO2 emissions but instead pay other actors (the “offsetting” bit) to reduce theirs.
Almost every Christmas gift you gave or received two months ago was transported vast distances across the ocean, spending weeks inside a shipping container. What powers these epic journeys across the globe? Unfortunately, it’s not reindeers. It’s the black, sludgy dregs of the refining process known as heavy fuel oil. Each tonne, when burned, releases several thousand times the amount of sulphur and tiny lung-damaging particles that petrol or diesel cars do, while also contributing to dangerous climate change.
One billion. That’s how much in euro that Germany’s tax on airline tickets generates every year. A billion is about a quarter of what trucks pay in Maut every year, or about 35 times less than the motor fuel tax.
The revelations that VW, Daimler and BMW commissioned research that forced monkeys and healthy human subjects to breathe toxic diesel fumes in a perverted attempt to prove their cars were clean is abhorrent. The methods bear shocking similarities to the tactics of the tobacco industry that funded research to disprove cigarettes were harmful with the explicit goal to undermine evidence from the World Health Organisation. It reveals a blurring of moral standards in German carmakers that starkly contrasts with the glossy brands the companies spend a fortune cultivating.
Vorige week kwam aan het licht dat Volkswagen, Mercedes en BMW apen en gezonde mensen giftige dieselgassen lieten inademen om te bewijzen dat moderne dieselauto’s helemaal niet zo vervuilend zijn. De testen leidden terecht tot een schandaal en het ontslag van toplui bij Mercedes en Volkswagen. Maar deze dierproeven zijn geen “accident de parcours”. De werkwijze die de autobouwers hanteren, vertoont als maar meer gelijkenissen met die van de tabaksindustrie. Die financierde jarenlang onderzoek om de schadelijke effecten van sigaretten te weerleggen met de bedoeling de positie van de Wereldgezondheidsorganisatie (WHO) te ondergraven.
Le rivelazioni sulle ricerche di VW, Daimler e BMW, compiute costringendo sia scimmie che persone sane a respirare i fumi tossici del diesel, in un tentativo perverso di dimostrare che le loro automobili fossero pulite suscitano disgusto. Questi metodi presentano delle scioccanti somiglianze con la tattica dell'industria del tabacco, che ha finanziato ricerche volte a negare i danni delle sigarette con l’esplicito obiettivo di confutare le prove dell'Organizzazione mondiale della sanità. Svelano un offuscamento degli standard morali delle case automobilistiche tedesche in netto contrasto con i brillanti marchi che queste aziende curano spendendo enormi somme di denaro.
Pour tenter de prouver que leurs voitures étaient propres, Volkswagen, Daimler et BMW ont payé des recherches au cours desquelles des singes et des humains ont dû respirer des fumées toxiques de diesel. C’est odieux. Ces pratiques font ressortir la morale douteuse des constructeurs allemands, et contrastent avec l’image de marque qu’ils entretiennent soigneusement à grand renfort de marketing.
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