Fit for 55: New Deal on Cleaner Maritime Fuels Reached & MEPs Propose Strict Sanctions for Environmental Crimes: GMPB

Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Policy Briefing: Fit for 55: deal on new EU rules for cleaner maritime fuel; MEPs support stricter sanctions for environmental crimes; Future of urban mobility lies with green, digital and multimodal solutions; Brussels’ new traffic plan has reduced cars by one-fifth in the last six months; MEPS back plan for a climate neutral building sector by 2050; Two-thirds of European battery production is at risk.

Fit for 55: deal on new EU rules for cleaner maritime fuels. According to the European Environment Agency, in 2019, transport accounted for a quarter of the EU’s total CO2 emissions, with 14% from water navigation. Earlier this month, Parliament and the council outlined a new deal on alternative fuel infrastructure, asking for the maritime sector to cut emissions by 2% before 2025 and by 80% by 2050. Cleaner maritime fuel would support the EU’s ambitious goals to reach climate neutrality and is part of the ’Fit for 55 in 2030 package’. MEPs suggested that ships will have to gradually reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions, to which we hope will aid the transition to bring greenhouse gas emissions down by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. This would apply to ships above a gross tonnage of 5000, however, the Commission will review the rules by 2028, to determine whether an extension should be pushed onto smaller ships. The preliminary agreements show that containerships and passenger ships will be obliged to use an onshore power supply for all electrical needs while moored in major EU ports as of 2030, resulting in a reduction of pollutants in ports. – Hannah Santry 

MEPs support stricter sanctions for environmental crimes. A press release published by the European Parliament on Tuesday, March 03, stated that Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) agreed to set stricter sanctions for environmental crimes. The sanctions aim to give a harmonised framework to oppose environmental crimes. MEPs of the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) voted a total of 22 unanimous agreements to add new offences to the list of environmental crimes punishable at the EU level. The added crimes include pollution caused by ships, illegal depletion of water resources, causing forest fires, illegal timber trade, breaches of EU chemicals legislation, genetically modified organisms and illegal unregulated fishing. Rapporteur, Antonious Manders (EPP, NL) said: “The damage caused by environmental crime has a deep impact on human health and the health of our planet. It Is crucial that we fight these cross-border crimes at the EU level with dissuasive and effective sanctions: the polluter pays.” MEPs are now aiming to make crimes involving physical harm, environmental damage or leading to death punishable by at least 10 years imprisonment and other crimes a minimum of four to six years depending on how serious the crime is. Fines for environmental crimes committed by companies have been increased from 5% to 10%. Not only will they face this fine increase but bans from accessing public funds and withdrawal of licences will be put in place for this crime. It is also suggested that businesses should work to restore the environmental damage caused, as this is in line with the polluter pays principle. – Shantelle Gondo 

Future of urban mobility lies with green, digital and multimodal solutions. Urban mobility, or the movement of people and goods within a city, has had an increasingly significant shift to more sustainable methods. On the 21st of March 2023, the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee voted on the draft resolution of its new EU Urban Mobility Framework. The results by Transport MEPs yielded 35 votes in favour, none against, and 5 abstentions. This framework includes a sharper focus on zero and low-emission urban mobility solutions: public transportation, car-sharing, and e-bikes and scooters. Additionally, the resolution explores the safe usage of micro-mobility and road safety. With an estimated 22,600 deaths a year occurring on EU roads, 39% of which are in urban areas, it seems vital for the resolution to emphasise on strengthening road safety. This includes educational campaigns, enforcement of speed limits, and improvement of walking and cycling infrastructure. Most notably, the resolution encourages digital and AI-based solutions. The report led by Bulgarian MEP Andrey Novakov that made up part of the resolution mentioned AI solutions three times, hoping that it can help “transport become safer, more reliable and affordable while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.” – Zoe Picton 

Brussels’ new traffic plan has reduced cars by one-fifth in the last six months. Results from the implementation of the Brussels ‘good move plan’ are out. The plan aims to make road safety a priority, focusing on car-free neighbourhoods, public transport and smoother traffic circulation. The Brussels government wants to reduce the use of cars by 24% and transit traffic by 34%. Such changes to the flow of traffic in the city have been implemented through the closing of some streets and the creation of new one-way streets. Although it still may be too early to draw conclusions, the results are promising. Overall, Brussels has seen that total traffic has fallen by around 19% from October 2021 – November 2022, with a 23% increase in cyclists in the morning and a 13% increase in evening rush hour. Reduction in noise pollution and cleaner air had also been noted. Nonetheless, the plan has met some resistance. The first week of the Good Move plan saw protests in the centre of Brussels, with people worried less traffic meant less business. The City’s Alderman for Mobility kindly noted that the concerns of residents would be taken into account but only against the spirit of the plan, stating changes ‘could be made where necessary’. – Hannah Santry

MEPS back plan for a climate neutral building sector by 2050. Members of the Parliament (MEPs) made a proposal on Tuesday, March 14. The proposal aims to increase the renovation of energy-inefficient buildings. The plan is also set to reduce energy consumption, improve information-sharing on energy performance and reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 2030. Most importantly by 2050, MEPs aim to make the EU building sector climate neutral. According to the European Commission, buildings in the EU make up 40% of energy consumption and 36% are responsible for GHG emissions. All news buildings are to be owned, operated or occupied by 2026. And by 2028 all these buildings should be zero-emission and should include solar technologies where possible. Unlike new buildings, existing residential buildings are to face major renovation until 2032. By 2030 these buildings should have achieved an energy performance of class E minimum level and by 2033 they should be a class D. Similarly public buildings should be in the same position by 2027 and 2030. Monuments, special architecture, historic buildings, churches and public social housing will be excluded from the proposal. The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, Ciaran Cuffe, said:” This is a growth strategy for Europe that will deliver hundreds of thousands of good quality local jobs in the construction, renovation and renewable industries, while improving the well-being of millions of people living in Europe.” In order for these targets to be met, member states will establish measures such as support schemes to facilitate access to grants and funding for vulnerable households. Other financial measures such as free information points and cost-neutral renovation schemes will also need to be available. MEPs are now looking to negotiate with the Council an agreement on the final shape of the bill. – Shantelle Gondo  

Two-thirds of European battery production is at risk. Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries have been seen as a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels, with the ability to safely store large amounts of energy, a longer lifespan and higher energy and power densities. Alarmingly, over two-thirds (68%) of Li-ion battery production are facing the risk of delay or cancellation. Transport & Environment (T&E) estimated 50 new Li-ion battery factories had been planned to open in Europe by 2030, but US subsidies could change this. Some of the projects that could be greatly jeopardized and lose the greatest volumes are Tesla and Northvolt in Germany and Italvolt in Italy. Moreover, Germany, Hungary, Spain, Italy and the UK are among the European countries with the largest shares of these Li-ion batteries – shares that could potentially be destroyed. T&E has outlined one major solution to attempt to stop these delays and cancellations. EU-wide financial support is necessary; this ensures the approvals process for these battery factories is faster and battery production can be scaled up, thus projects at risk of US subsidies can be captured under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). – Zoe Picton