Mark’s EU Week for Transport 

Mark speaking at the Global LNG Bunkering Summit in Amsterdam


Transport decarbonisation remains one of our biggest challenges. Despite or maybe because of international shocks and crises, such as the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, that goals remains as illusive as ever. Let’s remind ourselves that transport is the only sector that has not reduced its greenhouse gas emissions since 1990. And even with the major announcements by the EU last week (see below) to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2035, and slash the emissions from lorries and buses from 2030,  the current and most optimistic forecast by the European Environment Agency is for greenhouse gas emissions from domestic transport in Europe to fall by just 6% by 2030. Including international aviation and shipping, where emissions are forecast to grow, there is likely to be almost no reduction at all in Europe, falling well short of the 55% cuts demanded by the EU’s Fit for 55 Package. Transport emissions now risk prejudging our ability to reach our Paris climate goal of keeping global temperatures rises to 1.5C and avoiding catastrophic climate change.

So what is to be done? Well we can’t decabonise transport on our own. Travel, trade and supply chains are too interconnected for that. And we’ll be kidding ourselves if we think electric cars, buses and lorries are the answer. They are part of the solution, but only if massive strides are made to decarbonise the hard to reach sectors like shipping and aviation, and above all we see significant modal shift to public transport, shared mobility, cycling and walking. 

It is therefore essential we foster international cooperation in order to address this challenge at every level and across all the modes. And go beyond target setting and focus more on implementation, by delivering the technological solutions and the policy changes necessary. A huge opportunity to UK research, tech and industry. So it was great to see the UK taking this message to Brussels this weeks, with Chris Stark, Chief Executive of the UK’s Climate Change Committee, making the case  for greater international co-ordination, with tangible actions set against a clear and ambitious timescale. In particular he called for the UK to show more leadership, to build on the success of the UK’s COP Presidency. He highlighted the fact the UK risks falling behind the US with their Inflation Reduction Act, and the EU with their Fit for 55 Package, if we don’t update and strengthen our own climate ambitions, last set out in the Government’s ‘Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener’ almost two years ago. But a change is gonna come. A new announcement is due very soon. Let’s hope it rises to the challenge.     

1. European Parliament votes to phase out internal combustion engines from 2035
The European Parliament has narrowly voted in favour of phasing out internal combustion vehicles in passenger transport from 2035, a deal that means new cars and vans will not be allowed to release emissions from 2035, according to the European Parliament, where 340 of 640 MEPs voted in favour of a deal reached between Dutch Renew MEP Jan Huitema, the member states, and the Commission in October.

The law covers cars and vans but misses out on heavy commercial vehicles such as trucks and buses, which are to be treated separately.

The Commission proposed on Tuesday that from 2040, manufacturers would need to reduce the average CO2 emissions of the new trucks they sell by 90% compared with 2019 levels. They would also face a 65% CO2 cut from 2035 and a 45% cut from 2030.

2. EU sees brutal drop in renewable energy used in transport
According to statistics released by Eurostat, the EU saw a substantial fall in the amount of renewable energy in the transport sector for 2021, an alarming trend that affects almost all EU countries. Only four of the 27 member states – Croatia, Denmark, Finland, and Lithuania – managed to improve their renewable energy share compared to 2020, with all other countries recording a downward trajectory, according to Eurostat. While the European Commission declined to comment formally, one explanation for the drop is that the updated Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) came into force, mandating a new approach to renewable energy calculation.

3. Towards an EU cycling strategy
The European Parliament has passed a historic resolution calling for the European Commission to develop a European cycling strategy with the aim of doubling the number of kilometres cycled in Europe by 2030. The motion, adopted almost unanimously in Strasbourg, sets out a 17-point action plan to develop more cycling infrastructure, lay fertile ground in Europe for bike, component and battery production and grow two million jobs in a “cycling ecosystem” covering manufacturing, tourism, retail, health and sports that already employs one million people in Europe today.

4. Public workshop on the Multimodal Digital Mobility Services Initiative
On 28 February 2023 (10:00-13:00 CET) the European Commission will organise a stakeholder workshop (by videoconference only) on the ongoing impact assessment on the initiative on Multimodal Digital Mobility Services (MDMS), including the retained provisions from the Code of Conduct of Computerised Reservation Systems. During the workshop, the Commission will present an overview of measures and policy options considered for the initiative. Participants will be able to provide input or ask questions relevant to this initiative.

5. Timetable of key EU dates for transport and supply chain developments:

  • 27-28 February 2023: Informal meeting of EU telecommunications, transport and energy ministers
  • 1-2 March 2023: Next ENVI Committee meetings of the European Parliament.
  • 1-2 March 2023: Next TRAN Committee meetings of the European Parliament.
  • 1 June 2023: Meeting of EU transport ministers (Transport Council).
Mark Watts
UK Transport in Europe (UKTiE)
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