Mark’s EU Week for Transport 

We must all do our bit to drive radical change for transport this year.

This will be a year for radical change for transport, and it’s essential transport operators, professionals, EU Member States, the UK, the new administration in the White House, and indeed all global players, work together to make sure that this change is positive. And there is no guarantee that it will be, if we repeat the mistakes of the past. Build back better may be an overused slogan, but for transport it’s an absolutely vital objective.

One way or the other, not just due to COVID-19, but our other great generational challenges, congestion, pollution, safety, but above all the climate crisis, things must change for the better.

We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to make the change positive, in terms of climate, social justice, safety, digitalisation, accessibility and resilience.

A major driver for change will be the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 1 – 12 November 2021, hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy.  Italy will be hosting a number of key preparatory events such as a Youth Event and the Pre-COP Summit, which will be held in Milan from 30 September – 2 October 2021.

Transport will be a key focus, because in the UK, as in so many countries, transport is the largest greenhouse gas emitter. Across Europe transport emissions represent around one quarter of the EU’s total GHG emissions, and is the only industrial sector not to have reduced emissions since 1990.

Italy and the UK have pledged to make low and zero emission vehicles a priority at COP, and the EU has of of course published it’s Sustainable & Smart Mobility Strategy, together with an Action Plan of 82 initiatives, that will lay the foundations missing for a 90% cut in transport emissions by 2050.

The UK is likely to go even further and faster. In the UK’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan, which is due out in the Spring this year, every single mode of transport will be put on a pathway to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Their consultation document ‘Decarbonising Transport: Setting the Challenge’ was described by leading transport campaigner and visiting professor at Hertfordshire University, Stephen Joseph, as ‘utterly gob-smacking’, with a radical commitment to modal shift: “Public transport and active travel will be the natural first choice for our daily activities. We will use our cars less and be able to rely on a convenient, cost-effective and coherent public transport network. “

And in the US, Pete Buttigieg. the new Secretary of Transportation, has spoken of a ‘generational opportunity’ and making a commitment to ‘break new ground: in ensuring that our economy recovers and rebuilds, in rising to the climate challenge and in making sure transportation is an engine for equity in this country.’

The potential for UK, EU, and US cooperation and leadership, drawing a line under some of the disagreements of the past, and to work together on delivering a sustainable future, is huge.

UKTiE received a UK Government briefing last week on the UK’s plans, and has established a zero carbon working group to coordinate and foster UK-EU co-operation in this area. It’s vital we all do our bit this year to drive positive change, and make the reduction of carbon emissions from transport an annual goal, and zero carbon by 2050 a deliverable reality.

Contact us if you would like further information or join. 

1. Eight EU countries call for green fuel to be mandatory in European aircraft
Euractiv report that “ministers from eight European countries have called on the European Commission to boost the uptake of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) by requiring them to be blended into kerosene, a move they say will drive down emissions in the sector”. The joint statement, issued by Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden, comes in advance of the publication of the ReFuelEU initiative, which will lay out a framework for decarbonising the aviation industry and the shipping industry, including setting requirements for the use of sustainable aviation and shipping fuels. It is expected to be published by the European Commission in the first quarter of 2021.

2. European Parliament Research Service publishes TCA analysis
Last week, the European Parliament’s Research Service published an in-depth analysis of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The analysis outlines the institutional framework of the agreement (showed below):

The EPRS analysis also outlines how the TCA “provides that the European Parliament and the UK Parliament may establish a Parliamentary Partnership Assembly consisting of Members of both parliaments, as a forum to exchange views  on the partnership. The Assembly (a) may request information regarding the implementation of the Agreement from the Partnership Council, (b) shall be informed of the decisions and recommendations of the Partnership Council, and (c) make recommendations to the latter.” 

The EPRS analysis also provides an overview of the transport chapter of the TCA, laid out below:

3. Sustainable and Smart Mobility: deep dive
UKTiE Chief Executive Mark Watts has taken a deep drive into the new Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy that was published by the European Commission in December 2020. Mark has identified six key takeaways you simply must know. The staff working document that was released alongside the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy provides an essential blueprint for European, and indeed global transport policy and regulation for the next decade or more, and an indispensable guide to where the Commission is still looking for new ideas and fresh solutions. Mark also discusses the 82 concrete proposals, laid out within this document, many of them will become EU law or global standards over the next two or three years. 

4. UKTiE has also put together the latest timetable of key transport and supply chain developments in Europe. We will keep this up to date as the process develops:

  • 24-25 February 2021:  Next ENVI Committee meeting.
  • 24-25 February 2021:  Next TRAN Committee meeting.
  • 26-28 May 2021:  International Transport Forum Summit.
  • 11-13 June 2021:  G7 Meeting.
  • 1-12 November 2021:  COP 26.
Mark Watts 
UK Transport in Europe (UKTiE)
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