Mark’s EU Week for Transport 

The global pandemic is the immediate challenge facing the transport sector, but the big long-term challenge which must also be tackled with increasing urgency, remains climate change.

The UK will be the host of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow between 1 – 12 November 2021. The COP26 summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. COP26 transport campaigns are seeking to engage governments and industry to drive international ambition in decarbonisation, including on Zero Emission Vehicles across the modes, and action on the ‘hard to decarbonise’ maritime and aviation sectors.

It is against this backdrop that UKTiE is following both the UK and EU decarbonisation plans, together with the work of individual decarbonisation initiatives of countries across Europe, with a view towards promoting close co-operation. We must work hand in hand with our European partners to accelerate the goal of zero carbon for the transport sector, to drive greater international ambition and collaboration, and showcase UK and European expertise in green innovation and clean technology.

The UK has already announced an ambitious transport decarbonisation agenda, recognising transport is now the highest emitting sector in the UK, accounting for 28% of domestic emissions. A Transport Decarbonisation Plan is due to be published shortly, which will set out a path for transport to meet its net zero commitments by 2050. At the heart of the plan will be a strong commitment to help make public transport and active travel the natural first choice for daily journeys.

In Brussels, the fit-for-55 package of decarbonation measures will be published in June. This package will be a series of legislative proposals to decabonise all modes of transport in the EU by 2050, and ensure that transport is on track for the 2030 goal, likely to be a 55% cut in carbon emissions and further significant reductions in pollution.

The desire to ensure that no one is left behind is an important priority. Consequently, a sizeable chunk of the EU’s emergency Next Generation EU budget, to fund the COVID-19 recovery in Europe, will be directed toward the transition to zero carbon transport.

The UK’s ambition in terms of zero carbon is clear, but it’s also vital that the UK matches Europe in terms of investment too.

We are planning a briefing and roundtable event on the UK and European plans ahead of COP26, to foster synergy and cooperation. Let us know if you are interested in contributing as a speaker, sponsor or attendee.

1. Transport Commission Valean confirms June publication of Maritime and Aviation fuel legislation
Last week, Transport Commissioner Valean, speaking during an exchange of views in the Transport Committee, announced that the delayed Refuel Aviation and Fuel Maritime initiatives will now be published as part of the ‘fit for 55’ package of climate and energy legislation in June. These two proposals will aim to incentivise and further increase the update of alternative fuels across both maritime and aviation. It is expected that this will also be a topic of conversation at the next Transport Council on June 3rd.

2. Transport and industry MEPs back deal on Connecting Europe Facility
Last week, a deal between Parliament and Portuguese Presidency negotiators on a next generation Connecting Europe Facility was approved by the Transport and Industry Committees. The second edition of Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) will fund major transport, digital and energy projects that run from 2021 to 2027. With an overall budget of about €30 billion, CEF will focus on projects that seeks to modernise transport infrastructure or promote cross-border links. CEF will also finally aim to make energy networks more interoperable and ensure that projects funded are in line with EU and national climate and energy plans. The deal now needs to be approved by EU ministers and then by the Parliament as a whole to enter into force.

3. Council approves mandate for Digital Green Certificate negotiations
On 17 March 2021, the European Commission presented two proposals for regulations, subject to the ordinary legislative procedure, to create a Digital Green Certificate and facilitate the safe free movement of citizens within the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, EU ambassadors agreed a mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament on the proposal for a Digital Green Certificate. This certificate, proposed by the European Commission. will facilitate safe and free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing proof that a person has either been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19. The European Parliament is expected to adopt its position at its plenary on 26-29 April. The interinstitutional negotiations will start as soon as possible thereafter. Member states underlined their commitment to have the framework ready by summer 2021.

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:

  • 22 April 2021:  Next ENVI Committee meeting.
  • 26-29 April 2021: Next European Parliament Plenary session – agenda.
  • 10 May 2021:  Next TRAN Committee meeting.
  • 22 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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