Green Mobility Policy Briefing 15 July, 2022

Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Policy Briefing: the Belgian city of Hasselt launch adapted e-bikes to improve cycling accessibility; the UK Government marks the Transport Decarbonisation Plan’s anniversary by announcing measures to roll-out electric motorbikes; US airports are set to receive $1 billion to improve terminals; and China’s SINOPEC Group launch large-scale sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) plant.

Belgian city of Hasselt to make cycling more accessible for people with reduced mobility through the launch of adapted e-bikes. In collaboration with the Belgian Government and targeted potential users, including associations and people with reduced mobility, the city has developed both a wheelchair e-bike and a side-by-side tandem, enabling all individuals to cycle around the city. The wheelchair e-bike includes electric ride assistance to facilitate pedalling and is equipped with a wheelchair platform. Further, the e-bike does not require any lifting, with users able to simply ‘wheel in’ to the bicycle. The introduction of the e-bikes has been accompanied by the development of a specifically adapted and accessible cycling route, ensuring individuals can ride safely through the Hasselt area. Through attentive planning, the project serves as a source of inspiration for other cities seeking to remove existing obstacles for people willing to engage in the electric mobility transition. – By Agne Vaitkeviciute

The UK government takes measures to roll-out electric motorbikes on UK roads. To mark a year since the inception of the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, the government have set out a range of additional measures to capitalise on its success. Over the past year, almost 7,500 additional electric vehicle (EV) charging points have been installed across the country, whilst the government launched the UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions, its first office dedicated to decarbonising the UK’s shipping industry. Helena Bennett, head of climate policy at Green Alliance, an environmental think-tank, said that the Transport Decarbonisation Plan had “laid ambitious foundations for the sector to begin its transition to net-zero after 30 years in which emissions have stayed largely unchanged”. Thus, on Thursday the government announced its intention to further deliver on its ambitious climate commitments by launching a new public consultation to accelerate the phase-out of new fossil fuel-powered motorcycle sales by 2035. The UK Department for Transport simultaneously announced £350,000 in funding for a competition to assist the development of a zero-emission motorcycle supply chain in the UK. Successful applicants will undertake research to support the production and distribution of new zero-emission vehicles within the sector. A further public consultation, Course to Zero, is also to be launched, which will further inform the government’s strategy for achieving full decarbonisation across the UK’s shipping industry. Following the announcement, Transport Minister Trudy Harrison said the government had “taken decisive action to reduce harmful emissions while enabling innovation and growing the economy”. – By Sam Phelps

85 US airports are set to receive $1 billion in grants to improve terminals under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently announced the first round of grants dedicated to improving airport terminals across the country. The funding constitutes part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, announced last November. As a key part of the Biden administration’s economic agenda, the Act seeks to invest $1 trillion over the next five years to improve infrastructure deficits across the country, including $20 billion dedicated to airport infrastructure. A total of $5 billion will target terminal projects, including capacity expansions, and both energy efficiency and accessibility improvements. The use of federal funds to support airport investment, the responsibility for which has historically landed on local airport owners and airlines, is hoped to help airlines and airports who have struggled to meet post-pandemic passenger demand. Speaking following the announcement, the FAA Deputy Administrator A. Bradley Mims added that the grants are not only an investment in safer and more sustainable airport terminals, but also “an investment in the future of our country’s workforce”. – By Agne Vaitkeviciute 

China’s SINOPEC Group launches a large-scale SAF plant, commercial and regulatory concerns arise over use of palm fats. Chinese state-owned oil giant, SINOPEC, has launched a large-scale biofuel plant which boasts a processing capacity of 100,000 tons per year. The plant, which will be operated by SINOPEC subsidiary, Zhenhai Refining & Chemical, will become the first Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB)-certified SAF production unit in Asia. According to a press release, the plant will utilise proprietary methods of production, and will be able to meet domestic SAF demand whilst operating in a carbon neutral manner. However, a report by S&P Global Commodity Insights has suggested that due to supply issues, the company may turn to palm acid oil as an alternative to cooking fats and oils. Whilst plans to export SAF from the Chinese plant remain unclear, the European Parliament’s recent decision to exclude soy or palm from the ReFuelEU Aviation initiative, may dampen international demand for SINOPEC’s SAF offerings. However, domestic demand for SAF may increase in the coming years following the publication of a green aviation roadmap and the introduction of metric-based emissions reductions targets by the Civil Aviation Administration of China in January 2022. – By Thomas Hayden-Lefebvre