Transport is the largest source of CO2 emissions in Europe, with a share of 31% in 2012, and is responsible for about half of Europe’s €400bn annual energy import bill.
The deal agreed today has mixed messages on how the EU will deal with transport. It has generic but useful language on the promotion of energy efficiency in transport and the need to accelerate the move to electric mobility.
However, the agreement most regrettably includes the possibility for EU countries to unilaterally include transport in the EU carbon trading system (ETS), a move that will do nothing to reduce transport emissions and only postpone the necessary transformation of the sector.
Nusa Urbancic, clean energy manager of T&E, said: “The real-world impact of today’s adopted targets will very much hinge on how Europe will actually go about them. It is up to the incoming Juncker Commission to make sure they are met in real life and not just on paper and give investors the right signals. Keeping transport out of the ETS and adopting new fuel efficiency standards for all vehicles are one example. Limiting the role of bioenergy and biofuels – zero emissions on paper, often a lot in reality - in favour of solar and wind is another.”
The Council deal is also short on details in the promotion of renewable energy in transport. Most biofuels currently used have no or very limited climate benefits, but their use still costs the EU €6bn every year. The Commission has already recognised that these biofuels should not receive any support post-2020.
“Biofuels are an object lesson in what happens if you set wrong targets. Juncker’s commission has the chance to fix this once and for all by focusing their attention on low carbon energy sources, especially clean electricity, that deliver for the climate. Ensuring that we spend the billions of public money on sustainable electrification of transport instead of bad biofuels should be a top priority,” Nusa Urbancic concluded.
 The three targets for 2030 agreed by European leaders today are: to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent compared to 1990 levels; to improve energy efficiency to 27 per cent compared with business as usual; and to increase the share of renewable energy in the mix to 27 per cent.
 In 2009, European leaders committed to reducing CO2 emissions by 80-95% by 2050 to keep global warming below 2°C in order to avoid catastrophic climate change.