Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Policy Brief: Shipping off track to reach zero-emission fuel targets; EU takes Spain to court over rail market reforms; Low carbon fuels alliance holds high-level meetings; UK Government allocates £200m to decarbonise road freight; UK Transport Secretary announces new priorities for transport.
Shipping off track to reach zero-emission fuel targets. A recent report jointly published by UMAS, the Getting to Zero Coalition, and the Race to Zero initiative has highlighted the urgency for the global shipping industry to take immediate and decisive action in order to achieve its ambitious target of incorporating scalable zero-emission fuels to constitute 5% of international shipping fuels by 2030. While the production of zero-emission fuels is advancing, the report warns that the currently planned production may cover only a fraction of the required fuel quantity. However, there is potential to produce zero-emission fuels to exceed demand if more projects prove successful, even when considering fuel needs across various sectors. When it comes to zero-emission vessels, the situation appears less optimistic. Despite some high-profile orders for methanol-fuelled ships, it is projected that the current trajectory of orders may fall short by four-fifths of the vessels needed to achieve the 2030 breakthrough target. “The last 12 months have seen a positive shift in maritime decarbonisation efforts. Now is the time to see strong progress in terms of commitment for zero carbon fuels and freight from the industry so that the needed rapid scale-up of these fuels in the energy mix is achieved,” says Dr Domagoj Baresic, Research Associate at UCL and Consultant at UMAS, and lead author of the report. This report holds significant importance as it paves the way for the upcoming COP28 in Dubai later this year by providing an evaluation of the shipping industry’s progress. It assesses the shipping breakthrough goal across five key factors: technology and supply, finance, policy, demand, and civil society action.
EU takes Spain to court over rail market reforms. The European Commission has taken the decision to refer Spain to the Court of Justice of the European Union due to its failure in accurately adopting and implementing EU regulations aimed at establishing a unified European railway sector. The Commission’s concern revolves around Spain’s non-compliance with various aspects of Directive 2012/34/EU, which covers aspects such as the independence of the infrastructure manager, determination of infrastructure charges, adherence to commercial principles in managing railway undertakings, and the proper formulation of contractual agreements. One specific issue relates to the determination of infrastructure charges in Spain. While the country made amendments to its laws that align with the Directive’s requirements, the new system is not yet operational. The infrastructure manager, ADIF, now has a sufficient level of independence in formulating the charging scheme. Still, Spanish law contains a transitional provision that suspends the application of the new rules until ADIF approves and publishes the new arrangements. However, there is no provision in the law stipulating a deadline for ADIF to implement the new system. Consequently, track access charges may effectively be treated as taxes until 2024 or 2025 if swift action is not taken. This could prevent railway undertakings from contesting these charges in Spanish courts, as they are legally established. Spain and the Commission have been exchanging on the issue since 2018.
Low carbon fuels alliance holds high-level meetings. The second General Assembly of the Renewable and Low-Carbon Fuels Value Chain Industrial Alliance (RLCF), held on October 16, 2023, marked a significant milestone in the pursuit of sustainable and renewable aviation and waterborne fuels. The meeting consisted of four crucial blocks, beginning with discussions on high-level support and interventions from prominent figures. It then transitioned to updates on the previous year’s work, including extensive activities by the Alliance Secretariat. The second part of the meeting saw the presentation of achievements from the four roundtables, highlighting critical areas such as fuels technology mapping, demand projections, and funding guides with simplified business models. The assembly commenced with the distinguished presence of European Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean, represented by Deputy Head of Cabinet Pablo Fabregas, along with European Parliament members Jörgen Warborn and José Ramón Bauzá Díaz, who have been instrumental in shaping FuelEU Maritime and FuelEU Aviation policies. The leaders of the assembly, Mr. Eric Dalbies (Senior VP, Safran) and Mr. Davide Cucino (VP, Fincantieri), were reappointed as Chairs of the General Assembly, underscoring their commitment to leading the charge in sustainable fuel development.
UK Government allocates £200m to decarbonise road freight. The UK government has allocated £200 million to promote innovation and increase the presence of zero emission trucks on the nation’s roads. This significant investment is aimed at reducing emissions from freight vehicles, fostering innovation, and generating employment opportunities as part of a comprehensive government effort to support the sector. Given that heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) alone contribute to 20% of all transport emissions in the UK, the recently announced £200 million in government funding, disclosed on October 19, 2023, will be distributed among four pioneering green initiatives. These projects are designed to deploy as many as 370 zero emission HGVs, effectively steering road freight toward achieving net-zero emissions. This endeavour is not only dedicated to innovation but also focuses on job creation. In collaboration with Innovate UK, this government investment, which forms part of the zero emission HGV and infrastructure demonstrator program, will also facilitate the establishment of approximately 57 refuelling and electric charging stations. Four projects will share in the £200 million allocation: the eFREIGHT 2030 project by Voltempo, Project Electric Freightway by GRIDSERVE, Project Zero Emission North (ZEN) Freight, and Hydrogen Aggregated Logistics (HyHAUL) by Protium.
UK Transport Secretary announces new priorities for transport. In a recent address to the UK Parliament, The Rt Hon Mark Harper MP, Secretary of State for Transport, outlined a comprehensive vision for the future of the country’s transportation system. The speech focused on net-zero emissions, driver rights, and regional connectivity. The Secretary of State announced the introduction of the Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate. This legislation will require vehicle manufacturers to meet minimum targets for cleaner car production, starting with 22% next year and reaching 80% by 2030. However, Harper emphasized that people will still be able to purchase new petrol and diesel cars until 2035. Harper also took the opportunity to criticize measures such as 20 mph zones and low traffic neighbourhoods; schemes which his government deemed to be overzealous and restrictive. Lastly, following the cancellation of the Northern Leg of HS2, Mark Harper outlined how the £36 billion in savings would be allocated; Nearly £20 billion of this investment will be allocated to the North, providing better rail connections, mass transit systems, and funding for various road schemes. In addition to benefiting Northern cities and towns, the Midlands will receive almost £10 billion in funding, including support for the Midlands Rail Hub and mayoral budgets. The remainder of the investment will be spread across the UK, with specific projects such as extending the £2 bus fare cap, improving rail infrastructure in North Wales, and addressing potholes.