Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Policy Brief: Airlines plot fight-back against France’s short-haul flights ban; German Auto sector lobby: EU is undertaking ‘anti-industry-policy’: Four countries urge EU to set end date for new CO2-emitting trucks; UK Government charges ahead in car fleet transition to electric vehicles.
Airlines plot fight-back against France’s short-haul flights ban- In December 2022, The European Commission approved France’s decision to ban short-haul domestic flights between cities that are linked by a train journey of fewer than 2.5 hours. This is part of France’s 2021 climate law and was described as “a major step forward in the policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions” by transport minister Clement Beaune. However, fearing that this could set a precedent for wider limitations across flying in Europe, many airlines plan to fight against this ban by invoking the ‘freedom of movement’ law in a review next year, one of four basic freedoms within European law. One industry official explains “we have the principle established by the EU of an open, liberalised market with the freedom to provide air services for any European airlines between any point within Europe”. SCARA, a group representing regional French airlines, said it would use the review to prove the ban is ‘pointless’, only covering 3 short routes that represent just 0.23% of France’s air transport emissions. Green lobbyists have acknowledged that the ban is limited but say it is an important signal to countries keen to reduce aviation emissions. The EU will stick to its approval with the European Commission’s Director-General for mobility and transport, Henrik Hololei, explaining that the ‘review periods’ are there to make the ban more reasonable. – Charlotte Goldstone
German Auto sector lobby: EU is undertaking ‘anti-industry-policy’. Hildegard Müller, head of the German car industry association, the VDA, has expressed major concerns over the EU’s political stance which makes electric vehicle production more expensive. She believes that this goes against the EU’s nature of increasing industrial activity and does not benefit the EV industry. She thinks that EU policies would work better if they focussed on how to reach goals, creating a more proactive approach to policy. She compared EU policies to the U.S. and found the U.S. to focus more on supporting businesses whereby EU policies are too restrictive. The Euro 7 standards may reduce investments into EV production and be drawn into improving combustion engine technology as these have stricter emissions standards; this is called to be anti-industry, not focussed on green solutions. Müller believes that clean energy resources and raw materials are an issue for the car industry so a ‘raw materials agency’ to be set up and stop trade dependencies is welcomed by her. Moreover, she wants the EU to create more transnational trade agreements, especially with resource heavy countries. Müller wants Germany’s pro-stance on EV to be heard globally although this has not been apparent recently due to internal differences inside the German governing coalition. In a statement, Müller added that Germany needs to clearly commit to the auto industry, stating that “Without an ambitious program for competitiveness and location promotion, we risk losing the connection globally – with negative consequences for prosperity, employment and climate protection. Only a successful transformation for the climate, people and the economy will be copied worldwide,” – Tia Fishlock
Four countries urge EU to set end date for new CO2-emitting trucks- The EU’s revision of the CO2 standards for HDVs, set for February 2023, should include a 100% zero emissions target for heavy-duty vehicles, and whilst this will have no specific target date, it must comply with EU goals of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In light of this, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and Luxembourg have urged the European Union to set a date whereby new trucks and buses sold in Europe must have zero carbon dioxide emissions, saying in a joint document “The upcoming revision of the CO2 standards for HDVs provides a unique opportunity to send a strong signal to the market and incentivise a timely transition”. Transport currently accounts for nearly a quarter of EU emissions and has overridden the EU’s overall trend of falling CO2 output over the past three decades. This threatens targets included in the Fit for 55 package that aims to cut emissions by 55% from 1990 levels by 2030. Having already laid out ambitious targets for cars, such as a 2035 deadline for all new cars sold in Europe to have zero CO2 emissions, next month’s proposal will replace the current requirement for manufacturers to ensure their new truck fleets emit 30% less CO2 in 2030 than in 2019-2020. – Tia Fishlock
UK Government charges ahead in car fleet transition to electric vehicles. The UK Government has reached its target to switch over a quarter of all its cars to ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV) three months earlier than the initial deadline. This means that the government is on the correct trajectory to reach its 2027 car fleet zero emission objectives – an earlier date compared to the wider 2030 phase out date for banning diesel and petrol cars. A fifth of cars sold in 2022 had a plug, showing that globally the UK is a leader in the battery car market. To benefit the electric vehicle sector, the government has been supporting increasing and improving charging networks. For instance, the ‘Local electric vehicle infrastructure (LEVI) pilot’ offers £10 million, over nine authorities, to help deliver approx. a thousand local charging points across England. Further funding is also available from private groups for winning projects. The money should allow for better access to EV chargers, especially for people without off-street parking. The government has been working towards carbon free transport so these latest stats of early achieved goals shows a promising sign for net zero transport. – Charlotte Goldstone