Mark’s EU Week for Transport 

Mark speaking at the Global LNG Bunkering Summit in Amsterdam

Zero Carbon Transport: Be the change you want to see in the world.

A year ago the UK Government became the first in the world to publish a national ‘Transport Decarbonisation Plan’.As COP President it assumed a clear and firm leadership position ahead of COP 26 in Glasgow, and as the plan states it sought to  bring ‘together governments, cities, industry, businesses, and civil society to deliver shared high ambitions and accelerate the shift to zero carbon transport.’ The UK recognised that transport in the UK and almost every other developed economy is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and sought by way of example to lead the world to a zero-carbon transport future.

Given the turmoil in Westminster it may be tempting to overlook the challenge of decarbonisation, but the UK’s leadership role of COP (we don’t hand over to Egypt until November) remains critical to the success of the international drive to deliver zero carbon transport by 2050 at the latest.

So we cannot afford to get distracted, nor can we overlook the fact that our relationship with our European neighbours and partners is also critical to that international mission’s success. Not least because we share common international and domestic transport policy goals, and our economies, our trade and our transport systems and our standards remain highly integrated and interdependent.

Businesses, regulators, devolved administrations, local government and civil society must keep calm and carry on, maintaining, building and developing our European and international relations, influence and opportunities.

We simply can’t afford to wait. Transport is too important. A year ago the Secretary of State quite rightly said, ‘Because transport is not just how you get around. It is something that fundamentally shapes our towns, our cities, our countryside, our living standards, our health, and our whole quality of life’. As emissions continue to rise, air quality deteriorates and our roads become more and more congested, we need to act.

Some may be waiting for direction and leadership, but sometimes the burden of responsibility falls on us as citizens, businesses and organisations to be the agents of change, through sharing best practice, stimulating innovation, and facilitating trade. It is, after all, us that must deliver zero carbon on the ground.

We can and must drive the domestic, European and international change we need in order to deliver the shared high ambition and accelerate the shift to zero carbon transport.

As Mahatma Gandhi said: ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’

1. Council adopts position on RED III 
RED III aims to raise the 2030 target for renewable energy as a share of the EU’s final energy consumption to 40%. It also strengthens sectoral provisions to achieve this new target and reduce emissions from the energy sector. The Council published its opinion on 24 June which is available here. To advance the integration of renewables in sectors where incorporation has been slower, the Council agreed on more ambitious sector-specific targets and measures. Regarding the sub-targets for transport, the Council introduced the possibility for member states to choose between:

  • a binding target of 13% greenhouse gas intensity reduction in transport by 2030. More options will be available for member states to reach this objective, such as a possibility to set a differentiated goal for maritime transport as long as the overall goal is met;
  • or a binding target of at least 29 % renewable energy within the final consumption of energy in the transport sector by 2030.

2EP TRAN meeting on boosting long distance and cross border passenger rail
On 16 June 2022 EP TRAN discussed issues around rail transport. On ideas for improving passenger rail, Rapporteur Annalisa Tardino (ID, Italy) called for safe and secure interoperable systems, she also called for an emphasis on multimodal ticketing. The protection of passenger rights was vital for her – passengers must be able to trust an accessible transport system with reduced waiting times and affordable prices. Andris Americks (S&D, Latvia) stressed the role of digitalisation and the need for cybersecurity in ways that ensured a safe cyber environment for passengers and service providers. Ondrej Kovarík (RE, Czechia) said that the rail sector offered one of the greenest modes of transport, which was why it was at the core of efforts. He believed that one of the key ambitions should be boosting high-speed rail and the digitalisation of rail. A Commission Representative from DG Move mentioned that the Commission had an initiative on multimodal digital mobility services scheduled for adoption next year.

3. The city of Paris aims to phase out diesel by 2024 and thermal cars by 2030.
On 24 June 2022 Paris released a Climate Air Energy Plan which seeks to try to meet the European and WHO standards on air pollution. The Deputy Mayor of Paris says the city will meet European air quality standards by phasing out petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030. Paris has set a goal to transition to low emission mobility, including reducing the number of internal combustion engine vehicles in the city – a move that will improve air quality. There will be a greater promotion of walking, cycling and car sharing however, the long-term vision is not to eliminate cars from the city, but rather encourage the transition to low-carbon mobility. To support the clean transition, Paris is providing financial aid to residents to purchase bicycles and electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles. Over the next few years, the city aims to build some 8,400 charging points. Paris also aims to make the city 100% bike friendly by 2026 by creating 180KM of new bike paths.

4. Sustainable jet fuel amendments passed by MEPs, despite concerns from Greens 
MEPs in the European Parliament’s Transport committee voted on the 27 June on ReFuelEU Aviation, the Commission’s proposed sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) law. The amended text was passed by 25 votes to 6 with 3 abstentions following an agreement by MEPs in three of the Parliament’s largest voting blocs – EPP, Renew, and the S&D group. The Greens, however, voted against the text, arguing that it is not in line with the EU’s climate goals. What most aggrieved Green MEPs (apart from the SAF exemption for private jets) was the expansion of the eligible feedstock list from which green jet fuels can be made. To help fuel producers meet the increased SAF targets proposed by the committee, MEPs sought to expand the narrow list of EU-approved feedstocks included in the Renewable Energy Directive. The text will face a plenary vote in July.

5. Parliamentary question on developing an EU cycling strategy 
Karima Delli, on behalf of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, asked a parliamentary question on 21 June 2022 to the Commission about developing an EU cycling strategy and when the Commission is planning to publish this strategy. Additionally, she questioned how the Commission plans to complement and/or extend the EU Urban Mobility Framework and the EU Climate‑Neutral and Smart Cities Mission with adequate measures aimed at supporting cycling and increasing its share in the overall modal mix. She also asked if there are plans to develop EU‑level requirements for safe and convenient cycling infrastructure. Lastly, she questioned whether the Commission intends to include the EU bicycle industry in the list of EU industries covered by the EU industrial strategy.

6. EP TRAN meeting with the Tourism Task Force on the promotion of ‘Destination Europe’
On 15 June 2022 EP TRAN met with representatives from industry such as European Travel Commission, Expedia Group and Ariva Digital who presented their experience and ideas for how the EU could promote ‘Destination Europe’. On sustainability, Expedia said they were working with UNESCO to roll out a sustainable travel pledge and said that investing in Destination Europe and making tourism more sustainable were not mutually exclusive. Tilly Metz MEP highlighted that international air was the most problematic as it lacked any sustainable alternatives. The European Travel Commission said it was their goal to strengthen the sustainable development of EU tourism and focused on the advertising of Destination Europe.

7. Transport Council meeting on TEN-T 
On 2 June 2022 the Transport Council met to discuss the Regulation on union guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T). Adina Vālean, European Commissioner for Mobility and Transport said that there is a focus on rail freight and rail passenger dimension in the new TEN-T. She added that there was a huge potential for an increased role in waterborne transport. Germany said the text was an excellent compromise but that higher technical standards needed to be introduced where necessary. The Netherlands wanted to work on the objectives of the Green Deal and reduction in Co2 emissions but added some comments to the effect that the network should facilitate international rail passenger transport and that the Regulation should consider the financial constraints of MS and the EU, without hampering the ambitious direction of TEN-T. The French Presidency concluded by saying that there was clear support for the development of the TEN-T networks and underlined the importance of this network to contribute to achieving the EU’s climate targets in the transport sector.

8.  European Parliament briefing on the war in Ukraine and the implications for transport 
The briefing which was originally published in March has been updated in June and outlines the state of play before the war, EU sanctions against Russia and the Russian response, impact of Russian attacks and sanctions on transport, measures to support traffic flows and movement of people and goods, a contingency plan for transport and the EP’s response. The briefing highlights all that the EU has achieved thus far – it has adopted several sets of sanctions, leading to the closure of EU airspace to Russian aircraft, the closure of EU ports to Russian vessels, a ban on Russian transport operators and a ban on exports of goods and technology in the aviation, maritime and space sectors. For the Commission’s part, the briefing shows that Commission has devised a dedicated contingency plan for transport to strengthen coordination in the event of emergencies. It introduces guiding principles for implementing crisis response measures, and contains a number of initiatives intended to remedy the difficulties encountered following the war.

9.  Upcoming events 

  • The EU-UK Forum hosted the event ‘EU-UK Forum Annual Conference’ on 30 June 2022. The event was held online and video recordings can be accessed here. Speakers of note included Maroš Šefčovič MEP, Michael Clauss, Kelly Beaver MBE, Andrew Bounds, Suzanne Lynch and Sir Oliver Heald. The Forum discussed the transition period following the UK’s departure from the EU in which it was said that the last eighteen months have shown there is still a great deal of work to be done. The EU-UK Forum’s 2022 annual conference built on the work of last year’s inaugural event and explored the potential opportunities and pitfalls in pursuing constructive engagement and cooperation
  • The Association for European Transport will host the event ‘Behavioral Change – the impacts of the climate emergency and COVID-19 on long term travel patterns’ in Milan on 7 September 2022. The European Transport Conference (ETC) is the annual conference of the Association for European Transport, attracting transport policy makers, practitioners and researchers from all over Europe and beyond. ETC offers in-depth presentations on policy issues, best practice and research findings across the broad spectrum of transport.

10. 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:

  • 11-12 July 2022: Next TRAN Committee meeting.
  • 11-12 July 2022: Next ENVI Committee meeting.
Mark Watts
UK Transport in Europe (UKTiE)
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