- Planes, trains, and automobiles can expect particular attention under the EU’s upcoming Green Deal.
- The new Commission has already set its sights on cleaning up the transport industry.
- It is the only sector of the European economy where emissions are still growing.
Road transport dwarfs other mobility options in terms of greenhouse gas output. The European Environment Agency calculated that in 2016, the EU’s roadways contributed 72.1% of transport’s overall emissions.
Legislation on CO2 limits for cars, trucks and buses brokered under Jean-Claude Juncker’s Commission kick in early next decade. Those rules are not without their critics or shortcomings, however. The European Commission’s Herald Ruijters said that some pieces of legislation will not be adopted in time by the member states. “The European Commission is putting forward clear proposals that are not then reaching the levels of commitment in co-decision that we would like,” added Ruijters.
That hasn’t stopped EU countries from getting started, with many deciding to take differing courses of action in order to hit energy and climate targets. Nine countries, for example, have changed their standard petrol grade from E5 to E10, which means that it can contain up to a maximum 10% ethanol. Other member states are betting big on electrification. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged to ensure the Bundesrepublik has at least 1 million charging points by 2030, while established carmakers have started to switch production lines to electric vehicles.
But international aviation and shipping remain sore points for policymakers. Although their shares of EU transport emissions are similar, at 13.3% and 13.6%, both figures are increasing and expected to increase year-on-year. Under the draft Green Deal, one of the main proposals is including international shipping in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). When asked about whether the idea holds water, Ruijters replied that “Commissioner Vălean was very clear in her hearing on maritime in the ETS. “There is the issue of carbon leakage to address, we could find ourselves in a position where bunkering [of fuel] is set up on the other side of the Mediterranean or in other future third party countries,” he added.
German MEP Jutta Paulus told Danish media that the Parliament is already working on preparing the ground and that maritime could find itself included under the carbon trading system as early as next year.
Take Off Time
The ETS is set to make less of an impact on other areas. Although the Green Deal draft says that the Commission will “assess the possibility” of including road transport in the carbon market, the idea is not likely to fly. Including the road sector in the ETS is also expected to affect poorer people the hardest, which makes it a difficult political sell. And T&E argues it would not be very effective in cutting emissions anyway.
The upcoming environmental package also stops short of mentioning a fuel tax, although on Thursday (5 December), EU finance ministers are expected to agree on their priorities for updating the Energy Taxation Directive. Other solutions to aviation’s carbon footprint are in the works. Given that electric power is currently seen as too immature, Eni’s Giacomo Rispoli said that “Biofuels can be a real option, because planes need high energy-density from its fuels. It can only come from a liquid fuel.”
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