Delta & Stellantis at Risk of Net Zero Greenwash & EU Set to Introduce New Sanctions for Environmental Crimes: GMPB

Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Policy Brief: Stellantis, Delta Air Lines, at significant risk of “net zero greenwash” – study; Stricter Measures Proposed to Combat Ship Pollution in European Seas; Strengthening Environmental Protection: EU Nears Approval of Tougher Crimes and Sanctions; UK Aviation and Maritime Minister Post Vacant as Baroness Vere Departs in Reshuffle; and Macquarie Asset Management Accelerates Sustainable Aviation with €175 Million Investment in SkyNRG.

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Stellantis, Delta Air Lines, at significant risk of “net zero greenwash” – study.

In a recent study conducted by InfluenceMap, a striking misalignment has been unveiled between corporate net-zero commitments and tangible support for government climate policies. The report, titled “Net Zero Greenwash,” scrutinizes the policy engagement of nearly 300 companies from the Forbes 2,000, revealing that 58% of these companies are at risk of engaging in “net zero greenwash.” The study employs the UN High-Level Expert Group’s ‘Integrity Matters’ guidance on lobbying as a benchmark. According to this criterion, a company is deemed at risk of “net zero greenwash” if it has announced a net-zero target but lacks sufficient support for policies aligned with the Paris Agreement. The assessment includes both the company’s individual engagement and that of its associated industry associations. Among the list of companies assessed to be at significant risk are Chevron, Delta Air Lines, ExxonMobil, Glencore International, Repsol, Stellantis. Despite publicly declaring net-zero or similar targets, these companies, according to the report, exhibit a misalignment in their climate policy engagement activities, as indicated by InfluenceMap’s LobbyMap platform. In the case of Setllantis, the company has pledged net zero by 2038 but opposed the EU’s proposed 2035 100% CO2 emissions reduction target for new cars and vans in 2022, whilst in the case of Delta Air Lines, the company has pledged next zero by 2050 but in the last year has opposed both flight caps at Schiphol and the application of the EU ETS to extra-European flights. The implications of these findings are profound and should serve as a wake-up call for businesses globally. Despite the quick proliferation of climate commitments by companies, a significant number fail to align these declarations with robust support for government climate policies. Catherine McKenna, CEO of Climate and Nature Solutions and Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Expert Group on Net-Zero Commitments, emphasizes the need for a “climate ambition loop.” This loop envisions private sector leadership not only showcasing climate commitments but actively encouraging and reinforcing ambitious government action.

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Stricter Measures Proposed to Combat Ship Pollution in European Seas.

In a significant move towards protecting European seas from the adverse impacts of ship pollution, the Transport and Tourism Committee has voted in favour of updating EU rules on preventing illegal discharges from ships. The proposed measures aim to make international standards set by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) part of EU law, facilitating easier enforcement. One notable aspect of the proposal is the extension of current EU rules to include a broader ban on ship pollution. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have supported the inclusion of sewage, garbage, and residues from scrubbers in the list of substances prohibited for discharge, alongside the existing bans on oil and noxious liquid substances. Acknowledging the inadequacies of current regulations, MEPs emphasized the need for ship-owners to bear responsibility for environmental damage resulting from pollution incidents. This becomes particularly relevant when the individuals responsible for illegal discharges cannot be identified or cannot afford to pay the full penalty. EP rapporteur Marian-Jean Marinescu (EPP, Romania) emphasized the urgency of the situation, stating, “The current EU rules do not work because they are weakly applied by member states. This is unacceptable. It is time for member states to step up and protect European seas from the harmful effects of ships illegally dumping waste. It is necessary to effectively detect illegal discharges and set penalties at levels that serve as a real deterrent. The draft negotiating mandate has received overwhelming support, with 36 votes in favour and only one against. Once the plenary gives its approval next week, the Transport Committee will initiate talks with member states to finalize the legislation.

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Strengthening Environmental Protection: EU Nears Approval of Tougher Crimes and Sanctions.

In a move towards bolstering environmental protection, negotiators from the European Parliament and Council have reached a provisional agreement on the enhancement of EU environmental crimes and sanctions rules. The objective is to fortify ecosystem protection and ensure more effective enforcement of EU environmental legislation. The proposed update encompasses a revised list of activities classified as criminal offenses at the EU level, accompanied by related sanctions. The expanded list includes offenses such as the import and use of mercury and fluorinated greenhouse gases, the importation of invasive species, illegal depletion of water resources, and pollution caused by ships. Notably, the agreement also entails stricter sanctions for “qualified offenses,” comparable to ecocide, which may result in catastrophic consequences like widespread pollution or large-scale forest fires. Sanctions under the new rules will be substantial, including imprisonment and fines. Individuals, including company representatives, found guilty of environmental offenses leading to death may face a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. Companies involved in environmental crimes may face severe consequences, including fines, withdrawal of licenses, bans on access to public funding, or even closure. Member states will have the flexibility to impose fines at 3 or 5% of the yearly worldwide turnover, depending on the nature of the crime, or choose fixed amounts of either 24 or 40 million euros. The agreement also emphasizes the protection of whistleblowers, ensuring that individuals reporting offenses receive support. Moreover, it stipulates that judges, prosecutors, police, and other judicial staff undergo specialized regular training. The agreed draft law is now set for formal approval by the Legal Affairs Committee, the European Parliament, and the Council before it can be enacted.

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UK Aviation and Maritime Minister Post Vacant as Baroness Vere Departs in Reshuffle.

In a recent government reshuffle led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Aviation and Maritime Minister Baroness Vere bid farewell to her role after more than four years of service. Expressing her sentiments on X/Twitter, Baroness Vere stated, “It has been an honour and a privilege to serve at @transportgovuk for 4.5 years, and, it is fair to say, I will miss my colleagues and stakeholders and know that they are in good hands.” The reshuffle has left a key position within the government unfilled – the role of Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Aviation, Maritime, and Security. Despite the vacancy, the government has swiftly moved to make new appointments. Guy Opperman MP and Lord Davies of Gower have been designated as Parliamentary Under Secretaries of State in the Department of Transport. Lord Davies, a Welsh Conservative and former police officer was nominated for a life peerage in Theresa May’s resignation honours list in 2019. On the other hand, Guy Opperman MP, a former criminal barrister, was elected as the Member of Parliament for Hexham in Northumberland during the 2010 general election. Opperman has recently held the position of Minister of State for Employment.

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Macquarie Asset Management Accelerates Sustainable Aviation with €175 Million Investment in SkyNRG.

Macquarie Asset Management has committed an initial investment of up to €175 million in SkyNRG, a leading Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) platform. The investment, led by Macquarie Asset Management’s dedicated Green Investments team (MAM Green Investments), aims to bolster SkyNRG’s expansion plans and contribute to its ambitious objective of becoming a major SAF producer. SkyNRG’s vision for the future includes the establishment and operation of dedicated SAF facilities in Europe and the United States by 2030, in collaboration with strategic offtake partners. The company has already secured partnerships with key industry players such as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Boeing, with potential long-term commitments of up to €4 billion in SAF purchases. Philippe Lacamp, CEO of SkyNRG, expressed the critical importance of developing SAF production capacity to enable the aviation industry to achieve its net-zero goals. Lacamp stated, “We are very proud that Macquarie has made this strategic investment in our business and are confident that they, with the ongoing support of our existing shareholders, will provide us with the resources and expertise we need to accelerate our growth journey towards becoming a major player in the SAF industry.”