France invests €500m in Sustainable Aviation as Poland Challenges EU on ICE Car Ban: GMPB

Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Policy Brief: France to invest half a billion Euro in sustainable aviation; Poland to Challenge EU Rules Banning Fossil Fuel Cars in Top EU Court; Study Reveals Significant Savings for Travelers on European Night Trains.

France to invest half a billion Euro in sustainable aviation. In preparation of the Salon du Bourget, the French President, Emmanuel Macron, visited Safran, an aircraft engine manufacturer located in the Paris region. This visit followed a working dinner held on Thursday evening, where the French President met with industry leaders from Airbus, Dassault, Safran, Air France-KLM, and ADP. During the Safran visit, the President outlined France’s new commitments to promoting sustainable aviation. Specifically, the President announced that for the period of 2024-2030, France will allocate €300 million annually to support the aviation industry through the French public Civil Aeronautics Research Council (CORAC). This investment represents a multifield increase aimed at developing engines which emit fewer greenhouse gases, creating lighter and stronger aircraft components, and providing funding for technology development by small and medium-sized businesses in the sector. Of particular focus will be the advancement of small electric and hydrogen-powered aircraft. “We French have to be the champions of ultra-clean planes… and it is in our power to do it,” Macron said. Regarding sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), Macron confirmed an additional €200 million investment to develop biofuels and produce 500,000 tonnes of SAF within France. France’s commitments to aid the development of SAF follow Europe’s objectives of blending 6% of biofuels into kerosene by 2030. These objectives, however, are pending ratification through the ReFuelEU legislation negotiations.

Poland to Challenge EU Rules Banning Fossil Fuel Cars in Top EU Court. Poland’s climate minister, Anna Moskwa, announced last Monday that the country will appeal against European Union (EU) regulations aimed at ending the sale of fossil fuel cars across the bloc from 2035. The EU regulations, which were approved earlier this year as part of the Fit for 55 package, seek to establish a new carbon market to curb emissions from buildings and transport. The specific goal is to reduce carbon emissions from passenger cars and vans to zero by 2035. However, Poland has been the sole consistent opponent of this proposal. In her statement, Minister Moskwa expressed Poland’s disagreement with the regulations, as well as other documents included in the Fit for 55 package. Of particular issue, Poland’s government maintains that the EU did not have due regard to the potential social and economic consequences of climate measures, including the internal combustion engine registration ban. Poland’s challenge to the ban is consequential. On one hand, some suggest that opposition to climate measures hinder the EU’s ability to mitigate climate change whilst, on the other, the challenge underscores fears of potential job losses and economic disruption that could arise from the EU’s climate measures (see: GMM II pg. 14).  

Study Reveals Significant Savings for Travelers on European Night Trains. Night trains have been experiencing a resurgence in Europe as a more environmentally friendly mode of travel. However, the high cost of tickets has been a deterrent for many travellers. In a recent study conducted by environmental groups Transport & Environment (T&E) and Back on Track Europe, it has been revealed that solo travellers could save up to 20% on the cost of night train tickets in Europe by implementing two simple fixes related to VAT and track access charges. The study focused on various cross-border routes and demonstrated the potential for significant price reductions. For instance, a solo traveller on a return trip from Amsterdam to Madrid could save up to €65, amounting to 20% of the departing price. Similarly, families of four travelling from Berlin to Naples or Brussels to Vienna could save up to €167 and €139 respectively. Victor Thévenet, rail coordinator at T&E, emphasised that although night trains are experiencing a revival, their high prices continue to hinder their widespread adoption. To address this issue, the study suggests a 0% VAT rate and a reduction or total elimination of track access charges. Juri Maier, from Back on Track Germany, concludes: “The EU must take the lead in making night trains the most attractive option for citizens wanting to cross the continent. Two small taxation tweaks could have a major impact on the attractivity of rail travel in Europe. It’s a win-win for the climate and for citizens’ wallets.”