EU Leaders Urged to Embrace Night Trains as Parisians Set to Vote on an SUV Ban: GMPB

Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Policy Brief: European Leaders Urged to Embrace Night Trains with Open Letter from Diverse Coalition; Paris Plans to Take a Stand Against SUVs; MEPs Rally Behind Ambitious “Net-Zero Industry Act” to Drive Europe’s Climate Transition: MEPs Advocate for Ambitious Climate Action Ahead of COP28; and UK Government Joins Forces with Liverpool to Revamp Rail Network.

European Leaders Urged to Embrace Night Trains with Open Letter from Diverse Coalition.

A coalition of ministers, parliament members, civil society organizations, and industry groups has sent an open letter to top European leaders, urging them to develop a comprehensive strategy for a European night train network. The letter, addressed to President Ursula von der Leyen, Executive Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, and Commissioner Adina Vălean, highlights the growing popularity of night trains as a climate-friendly travel alternative, with seven out of ten Europeans expressing a willingness to shift to night trains. The coalition identifies obstacles such as high track access charges, financial risks, technical barriers, lack of timetable coordination, and the absence of comprehensive booking platforms. Urgent actions recommended include allocating financial resources for railway infrastructure, reducing track access charges, streamlining approval processes for rolling stock, and facilitating data exchange within the European railway system. Signatories of the letter include prominent figures such as Leonore Gewessler, Federal Minister for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation, and Technology (Austria); Georges Gilkinet, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Mobility (Belgium); Francois Bausch, Minister for Mobility and Public Works (Luxembourg); and several Members of the European Parliament from different political groups. Industry groups backing the initiative include ALLRAIL (Alliance of Passenger Rail New Entrants in Europe), T&E (European Federation for Transport and Environment), BT4Europe (European Network of Business Travel Associations), CER (Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies), and UNIFE (European Rail Supply Industry Association).

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Paris Plans to Take a Stand Against SUVs.

In a bid to promote cleaner air and create a more pedestrian-friendly city, Paris is set to embark on a mission to reduce the presence of large sports utility vehicles (SUVs) in its centre. The city’s authorities plan to achieve this by implementing higher parking fees for heavy cars and organizing a citizens’ vote on the matter in early 2023. This initiative comes on the heels of Paris’ recent and controversial decision to ban rental scooters, a move influenced by the results of a citizen’s vote in September. Now, the city is taking the issue of SUVs to the people with a local referendum scheduled for February 4. The referendum will specifically address “the place of SUVs in the capital,” allowing residents to voice their opinions on the matter. It is anticipated that the city’s authorities will propose higher parking fees for thermal engine cars weighing over 1.6 tonnes and for electric vehicles over two tonnes. Under the leadership of Mayor Anne Hidalgo, Paris has been steadily increasing pressure on drivers to adopt more sustainable modes of transportation. The city has raised parking costs and phased out diesel vehicles while simultaneously expanding the bicycle lane network. As part of these new plans, 50% of the parking spaces currently available in public spaces, totalling 60,000 spaces, will also undergo transformation into green spaces.

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MEPs Rally Behind Ambitious “Net-Zero Industry Act” to Drive Europe’s Climate Transition.

The European Parliament has endorsed the “Net-Zero Industry Act,” a pivotal legislative initiative aimed at fortifying the continent’s manufacturing prowess in critical technologies for decarbonization. On Tuesday, the Parliament set ambitious targets and comprehensive measures to bolster the production of net-zero technologies. The legislation, often hailed as a cornerstone in Europe’s climate strategy, outlines a robust roadmap. The centrepiece is the commitment to have Europe produce 40% of its annual deployment needs in net-zero technologies by 2030. Simultaneously, the legislation aspires to secure 25% of the global market share for net-zero technologies, establishing Europe as a formidable player on the world stage. A notable expansion in scope occurred as MEPs introduced amendments broadening the legislation’s coverage to encompass the entire supply chain. This includes components, materials, and machinery crucial to producing net-zero technologies. MEPs also proposed a dynamic and periodically updated list of technologies to be covered, notably incorporating nuclear fission and fusion technologies, sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs), and specific industrial technologies. The act introduces the concept of “Net-Zero Industry Valleys” initiatives, designed to expedite the permitting process by delegating parts of the environmental assessment evidence collection to member states.  The legislation, adopted with 376 votes to 139, with 116 abstentions, will now proceed to the Council for their consideration. Once the Council adopts its position, negotiations on the final shape of the law will commence.

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MEPs Advocate for Ambitious Climate Action Ahead of COP28.

In a call for urgent climate action, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have adopted a resolution outlining key recommendations for the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP28. The resolution sets forth a bold agenda that focuses on ending fossil fuel subsidies globally by 2025, tripling renewable energy, doubling energy efficiency by 2030, and addressing critical issues such as biodiversity protection and emissions reduction across various sectors. With a majority of 462 votes in favour, 134 against, and 30 abstentions, MEPs have voiced their commitment to ending all direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies. The resolution not only urges nations to eliminate these subsidies at the national, EU, and global levels but sets a clear deadline of 2025 for their termination. This move aligns with the broader objective of the Paris Agreement, emphasizing the need to transition away from fossil fuels to mitigate the impacts of climate change. MEPs are pushing for ambitious targets to accelerate the global transition to sustainable energy sources. The resolution advocates for a triple increase in renewable energy and a double improvement in energy efficiency by 2030. This reflects a commitment to bolstering clean energy alternatives while simultaneously enhancing energy efficiency to reduce overall consumption. MEPs also MEPs emphasised the need for nations to contribute their fair share to increase international climate financing, recognizing the critical role financial support plays in helping developing nations adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

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UK Government Joins Forces with Liverpool to Revamp Rail Network.

In a step towards revolutionizing public transportation, the UK government has joined hands with Liverpool to enhance the city’s rail network. The recently signed memorandum of understanding, sealed by Transport Secretary Mark Harper and Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram on November 16, 2023, signifies a commitment to creating a fully integrated public transport system in Merseyside. The collaborative effort involves key stakeholders, including the Transport Secretary, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Network Rail, and the Great British Railways Transition Team. The shared vision aims to streamline and make public transportation in Liverpool more affordable, accessible, and interconnected. The agreement comes as part of the government’s broader initiative to empower local authorities and prioritize the needs of communities. It aligns with the government’s commitment to enhance connectivity, providing residents with easier access to jobs, education, and business opportunities within Liverpool. As a part of the Network North plan, the UK government has earmarked £12 billion to improve connectivity between Manchester and Liverpool. This funding supports the implementation of the Northern Powerhouse Rail, including the development of high-speed rail lines. The commitment to infrastructure development is underlined by the recent opening of the Headbolt Lane station in Kirkby, funded by £80 million of government support.

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