You could almost hear the sigh of relief going through the ‘Quartier Européen’ two weeks ago. Despite all the talk of a populist anti-EU insurgency taking Brussels by storm, that was not Sunday evening’s story. The people’s party (EPP) and the social democrats (S&D) each lost 30-40 seats. But the big surprise was the excellent performance of liberal and green parties. By Monday morning people started to talk about ‘a green wave’ with even the European Commission’s most powerful bureaucrat, Martin Selmayr, joining the chorus.
This blog was originally published as an opinion article by the National Observer
Canada hosted delegates from around the world to talk about transparency at the Open Government Partnership Global Summit in Ottawa May 29-31. Amid all the talk of data sharing and citizen empowerment, there was no mention that Canada is home to one of the most opaque, secretive rule-making bodies in the world.
In two weeks Europeans go to the polls to elect a new European Parliament and, indirectly, a new European Commission president. It’s a vote that matters hugely for the environment. But before we look ahead, it’s useful to assess the Juncker Commission. So what did Jean-Claude Juncker and his team do well, and what could the next Commission do better?
Recently the gas sector has been playing up the role of or renewable gas in decarbonising the European Economy. The industry says biogas, biomethane, renewable hydrogen and renewable methane – supported through policy – can help bring about a decarbonised economy. This lobby offensive is gaining some traction, with the Romanian presidency and 17 other EU countries launching a declaration claiming gas networks are needed “to accommodate increasing shares of near-zero carbon hydrogen and renewable gases”. Amongst all that talk of “green gas”, one question beckons: have people been paying attention to the biofuels debacle at all?
The EU is proceeding with cartel investigations of whether German carmakers delayed the introduction of new emissions technology. Yet the European Commission looks set to propose keeping relaxed NOx limits for on-road tests of Euro 6-standard cars in response to a recent EU Court ruling. EU legislators should not accept that limits will continue to be exceeded in real-world use, as T&E’s analysis of industry data shows the technology for less polluting diesels is available. The upcoming review is a golden opportunity to improve air quality and align tests with the newest evidence.
Ryanair grabbed headlines earlier this month after it was revealed that it's now a top 10 carbon emitter in Europe. But for those of us working on aviation and climate, the news came as no surprise. Aviation emissions have been soaring for years. And as other sectors’ emissions decline, aviation has been climbing up the climate rankings. Aviation is the most carbon intensive mode of transport, Europe’s fastest growing source of emissions, and with its emissions having grown 26% in five years, Europe’s greatest climate failure.
Ten months. That’s all it took for Europe to agree its biggest ever climate package for trucks. By EU standards that is miraculously fast. But it was the culmination of a radical change in approach that has taken place over the last nine years. Until 2016 the European Commission’s mantra was that the trucking market was a rational one, the implication being that increased transparency through a new test procedure and consumer demand would do the trick. Then the Commission’s stance changed abruptly.
On Monday, EU lawmakers may finally reach a deal on truck CO2 emission standards and on the first ever sales targets for zero and low-emission trucks. Electric trucks will benefit hauliers and society as a whole, but an ambitious sales benchmark will be needed to make sure truckmakers actively sell affordable and reliable models.
This blog was first published by EurActiv
By Jori Sihvonen and Andrew Murphy
The ink is barely dry on the EU’s revised renewable energy policy and already it is under threat from the aviation sector. That sector’s UN aviation agency, ICAO, known for its “spectacular lack of transparency”, is once more having a closed door meeting which risks clearing the way for the type of bad biofuels the EU has spent a decade trying to get rid of. And, on top of that, they are seeking to add “lower carbon” aviation fossil fuels as an option to cut aviation emissions.
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