MEPs Call for More Carbon Removals as EP and Council Adopt Key Fit for 55 Legislation: GMPB

Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Policy Brief: Carbon removals: more efforts needed to achieve carbon neutrality: MEPs; Fit for 55: Parliament adopts key laws to reach 2030 climate target; Transport investment turbocharges UK’s net zero ambitions and economic growth in Scotland; Ryanair and Wizz Air pollute more than ever – T&E analysis. 

Carbon removals: more efforts needed to achieve carbon neutrality: MEPs. In a resolution on Sustainable Carbon Cycles, MEPs have recognised the potential to limit climate change but warned the EU that they must prioritise swift emission reductions and not become solely dependent on future Co2 emission removal. The resolution states technologies including direct air capture, combined with permanent storage, are scientifically proven to help the EU achieve carbon neutrality before 2050. MEPs also highlighted that forestry and agriculture should play an important role in the EU’s carbon removal from the land use sector (carbon farming), which is naturally enhancing the storing of carbon in the soil and forests through activities, subsequently offsetting the carbon released into the atmosphere and improving soil fertility. In addition, carbon farming is an opportunity to transform farmers’ business models and reward those participating in agroecological transition. Both permanent air capture and carbon farming can help the EU reach carbon neutrality by 2050. Every tonne of Co2e emitted must be neutralised through the removal of another tonne of Co2e in the atmosphere. In December 2021, the Commission adopted the  Communication on Sustainable Carbon Cycles”. An action plan focused on developing sustainable solutions to remove carbon. – Hannah Santry

Fit for 55: Parliament adopts key laws to reach 2030 climate target. The “Fit for 55 package ” is an EU initiative which contains a number of measures which aim to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 55% by 2030. On the 18th of April 2023, MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) approved deals for a few new pieces of legislation as part of this package. The first of these is the reformation of the Emissions Trading System (ETS), which is the world’s biggest and first major carbon market. The reforms include cutting GHG emissions in the ETS sectors by 62% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels and cutting out free allowances to companies from 2026 to 2034. Additionally, the Council approved a new EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), which incentivises non-EU countries to increase their climate action. This also avoids the risk of carbon leakage. The third and final new piece of legislation agreed on is a Social Climate Fund (SCF) to combat energy poverty. This fund is set to ensure that the climate transition remains fair and inclusive. The fund will benefit vulnerable households, micro-enterprises and transport users, who are affected by transport poverty. The SCF could be given an allowance of up to €86.7 billion. – Zoe Picton

Transport investment turbocharges UK’s net zero ambitions and economic growth in Scotland. The UK Government has committed to new green technologies to improve connectivity through sustainable transport and maximise economic growth, headed by Transport Minister, Richard Holden. His trip to Scotland on the 3rd of April 2023 included seeing the potential of new hydrogen-powered and self-driving trucks, which have been funded by £16 million from the government. This investment is in aid of the UK reaching its ambition of being net zero by 2050. £127 million has also been invested into new transport links in Ravenscraig, North Lanarkshire. This is estimated to generate 4,600 new construction jobs as well as £626 million for the local economy – proving that the establishment of green technology and sustainability is highly beneficial for the economy and jobs alongside the environment. Richard Holden stated the UK could “become a world-leading, next-generation transport hub by protecting the environment and meeting our global ambitions”, and that “boosting transport connections across the UK will grow the economy and ensure that everyone no matter where they live has access to well-paid, high-quality jobs.” – Zoe Picton

Ryanair and Wizz Air pollute more than ever – T&E analysis. According to a T&E analysis, 2022 saw Ryanair and Wizz Air surpass their emissions in 2019, with Ryanair being Europe’s top polluting airline, emitting 13.3 million tons of Co2. Furthermore, the analysis showed Wizz Air produced significantly less than Ryanair but was still placed 8th, emitting 3.7 million tons of Co2. T&E claims that these figures show that airlines have failed to comply with pledges made post-pandemic. Aviation Policy Officer at T&E, Roman Mauroschat, claimed: ‘the sector has clearly not been building back better’, and that: ‘Airlines should get their act together and pour more money for green fuels and clean aircraft’. Furthermore, long-haul airlines are not back to pre-covid levels of flying, and companies such as Air France and Lufthansa, despite producing considerable GHG emissions, paid very little for their pollution in 2022. Under the carbon market rules, short-haul carriers are expected to pay more for their emissions in comparison to long-haul carriers. With Air France paying on average 6 euros per tonne of carbon and Ryanair paying an average of 44 euros. T&E further argues neither of these prices are sufficient to tackle aviation emissions, with Roman Mauroschat claiming airlines are emitting high levels of CO2 emissions but not paying an appropriate price for the pollution created. – Hannah Santry