Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Policy Brief: Trans-European transport projects should be more sustainable: MEPs; Polluting planes and ships get green investment label from EU; Commission to announce a European Declaration on Cycling; UK SMEs secure funding to transform future of freight.
Trans-European transport projects should be more sustainable: MEPs. On Thursday the 13th of April, the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee adopted a new position on a proposal to revise trans-European transport (TEN-T) project rules. TEN-T is an EU-wide transport network policy and funding instrument which aims to develop coherent and multimodal transport infrastructure across the Union. The Committee advocated for unified technical and operational standards and expressed a preference for multimodal transport via rail and inland waterways over air and road transport. MEPs also suggested that Member States need to complete sustainable urban mobility plans (SUMPs) by the end of 2025 and that future EU funding would be contingent on completing this task. Additionally, in a bid to incentivise respect for project deadlines, MEPs suggested that the Commission should launch infringement procedures or terminate funding against projects which face significant delays. Co-rapporteur Dominque Riquet (Renew, FR) added: “Transport infrastructure is essential, serves as the backbone of our economy and prosperity, while increasing cohesion and contributing to achieving the Union’s climate targets. However, we are facing too much delay on the ground; Europe is starting to lag behind our international competitors, and the Union is suffering from too little investment and a lack of political will from the member states.” The TEN-T instrument has provided support for major projects such as Rail Baltica and the Lisbon-Madrid high-speed railway line. However, some have criticised the TEN-T governance for its centralisation. – Thomas Hayden-Lefebvre
Polluting planes and ships get green investment label from the EU. The EU Commission has been heavily criticised following its release of an updated list of sustainable investments as this list has perhaps wrongly included polluting aviation and maritime vehicles. Airbus, Ryanair, MSC and Carnival Cruises are among the biggest polluters that will reap the benefits of funds given by the EU Taxonomy. The EU Taxonomy for sustainable activities is a system used to clarify which investments are environmentally sustainable. Whilst the above-mentioned companies are invariably carbon intensive, they could be considered “green” and “efficient”, and thus deemed desirable by ESG conscious investors. The European Commission has justified this decision by stating that maritime vessels can be powered by Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), meaning they supposedly emit less CO2 than traditional shipping fuels. But LNG can also create methane slips and downstream emissions, proving this justification to be very ineffective. One of the primary critiques of this green investment label is Transport and Environment (T&E). Faig Abbasov, shipping Director of T&E, has called the decision a “nail in the coffin of the EU’s Taxonomy”, also saying there is “little hope” left for it. – Zoe Picton
Commission to announce a European Declaration on Cycling. During the Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans speech at the Cycling Industries Europe Summit several key points were noted. Despite improvements over the last eight years to cycling journeys within Brussels, Timmermans claims we are not there yet, and that Brussels needs to follow the examples of cities such as Copenhagen, which, in 2019, was ranked the world’s top cycling city with cycling accounting for 49% of all commuter trips. In addition, Timmermans highlights the need for improved cycling paths, not just for congestion but air quality too. In fact, in 2017, The Brussels Times highlighted that Brussels was exceeding WHO limits and was even taken to court by the environmental NGO ClientEarth for its failure to comply with EU air quality directives. Timmermans argues that cycling can address the crisis of bad air quality directly, stating it is by far the cleanest and most affordable form of transport, considering the energy crisis following the war against Ukraine. Furthermore, Timmermans suggested the EU does have a role in the cycling revolution, claiming that in 2020, the European regional funds provided over 2 billion euros to build cycling and footpaths. In the summer of 2023, the Commission will propose a European Declaration on Cycling, creating a compass for European rules for funding and policies, providing clear principles to boost cycling and ensure implementation. Timmermans further stressed the importance of European manufactured bikes and electric vehicles, seeing the electric bike sector as an important industry to ‘nourish’ Europe. – Hannah Santry
UK SMEs secure funding to transform the future of freight. As part of the government’s Future of Freight plan, they have announced funding to several small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to aid the transition to net-zero freight. On the 11th April 2023, the government confirmed £7 million of funding to be invested into this plan to develop greener and more efficient freight solutions. One of the winners of this funding is Skyports Deliveries; this will use drones to improve connectivity and launch Royal Mail deliveries in the Orkney Islands. Furthermore, Electric Assisted Vehicles (EAVs) will use the money to develop 4-wheel, electrically assisted vehicles for freight to reduce road emissions created from traditional carbon freight vehicles. In total nine projects have received the funding for greener freight: £150,000 to Skyports Deliveries Ltd; £150,000 to Electric Assisted Vehicles Ltd; £120,000 to CurbCargo; £119,000 to Lightricity Ltd; £145,000 to Otaski Energy Solutions Ltd and Syselek Ltd; £129,000 to CocoonFMS Ltd; £145,000 to Entopy; £133,000 to RoboK Ltd; and £100,000 to Estudio Cactus. – Zoe Picton