Transport MEPs Greenlight AFIR and FuelEU Maritime as UN Establishes World Sustainable Transport Day: GMPB

Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Policy Brief: European Parliament votes on FuelEU Maritime and Alternative Fuel Infrastructure; First U.S.-Canada Electric Vehicle Corridor Announced; A new proposal to revise Europe’s Heavy-Duty CO2 Standards; United Nations establish a new World Sustainable Transport Day; Zero-emission zones will seriously reduce harmful levels of air pollution; Fossil gas: greenwashing tactic implemented within the maritime industry.

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European Parliament votes on FuelEU Maritime and Alternative Fuel Infrastructure. In 2021, the European Commission presented the ‘Fit for 55’ package, aimed at reaching the European Green Deal’s targets. The FuelEU Maritime regulation was one of these proposals, with the general approach adopted in July of 2022. March 2023 saw the agreement between Council and Parliament negotiators on the potential rollout of new rules on alternative fuels, seeking to expand recharging and alternative fuelling stations. The new rules set out mandatory national targets relating to the deployment of charging infrastructure and require EU countries to present their plans on how to achieve them. MEPs have secured electric charging pools for cars with over 400 kW output to be deployed every 60 km along the core TEN-T network by 2026, which will increase to 600 kW by 2028. Furthermore, ships will be required to, over time, reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), with a 2% cut by 2025, 6% cut by 2030, 14.5% cut by 2035, 31% cut by 2040, 62% cut by 2045, and an 80% cut by 2050, all compared to the 2020 level of 91.16 grams of CO2 per MJ. Containerships and passenger ships will also be required to use onshore power supplies for electrical needs while moored in major EU ports as of 2030. Lastly, the deal on such alternative fuel infrastructure was approved by the Transport and Tourism Committee, with 33 votes to one and seven abstentions. The deal on sustainable maritime fuels also received 40 votes in favour and two abstentions. The next step is approval by the full house, currently set for the July plenary session in Strasbourg. – Hannah Santry   

First U.S.-Canada Electric Vehicle Corridor Announced. On the 16th of May, U.S. and Canadian officials announced the first binational electric vehicle corridor, stretching from Kalamazoo, Michigan to Quebec City, Quebec, adding to over 75,000 miles (120,700 km)of Alternative Fuel Corridors currently present in the United States. According to the United States Department of Transportation, President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau are committed to working together to strengthen the world’s largest market-based energy trading relationship. Detroit Mayor, Mike Duggan, claimed the announcement on the Binational EV corridor ‘is a huge step into the future of zero-emissions transportation and commerce’. With a requirement for electric vehicle charging infrastructure to be installed every 50mi (80km), and at least one Direct Current fast charger with Combined Charging System ports, funding is required. The American administration is making large investments to reach this goal whilst promoting electric vehicles to make up 50% of all new sales within the U.S. by 2030. For example, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act are all investing in this new project with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law providing $7.5 billion in federal funding alone to help build 500,000 EV chargers. – Hannah Santry 

A new proposal to revise Europe’s Heavy-Duty CO2 Standards. A recent proposal to revise the European Union’s heavy-duty CO2 standards, which would call for a 45% reduction target in CO2 emission by 2030, 65% in 2035, and 90% in 2040, set the path for an incredibly ambitious transition to net-zero by 2050. Currently, Europe’s CO2 standards for heavy-duty vehicles require most new trucks to have 30% lower emissions by 2030 compared to 2019 levels. If the proposal is adopted, the standards would accelerate zero-emission technology and are projected to reduce the emissions of trucks and buses by 1.8 billion tons of CO2 by 2050 (a 64% reduction compared to 1990 levels). However, according to a briefing by the International Council on Clean Transportation, vocational vehicles, such as construction vehicles, are not covered by CO2 standards which could open a loophole in CO2 standards. – Hannah Santry 

The United Nations establishes World Sustainable Transport Day. The primary organ of the United Nations (UN), the General Assembly, has recently adopted a resolution to establish a World Sustainable Transport Day. This will begin this year – the first of its kind – and be marked annually on the 26th of November. Turkmenistan’s government first put forward the resolution, following an initial proposal by the International Road Transport Union (IRU); the Secretary General of the IRU, Umberto de Pretto, has expressed they are “delighted that the UN has acted so quickly on the IRU initiative.” All UN member states are invited to commemorate World Sustainable Transport Day, as well as UN affiliated organisations and civil society. Some of its key objectives include enhancing intermodal transport connectivity, advocating for environmentally friendly transportation, and establishing socially inclusive transport infrastructure – this will hopefully be achieved through a vast array of activities coordinated by the UN throughout the day, like education sessions and events that aim to enhance public knowledge of sustainable transport issues. A further advantage of this day is that it will encourage the UN, international and regional institutions, and the private sector to coordinate their efforts in mobilising assistance to countries and strengthen links between all modes of transport. – Zoe Picton  

Zero-emission zones will seriously reduce harmful levels of air pollution. Air pollution levels within the EU could be brought down close to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) science-based guidelines, if stronger action is taken on polluting vehicles, modelling from Transport & Environment (T&E) and the Clean Cities Campaign (CCC) has shown. Research into different policies aimed at reducing road transport emissions in five EU cities (Madrid, Paris, Milan, Warsaw, and Brussels) has concluded that zero-emission zones (ZEZs) are among the most effective. ZEZs are areas where only active travel and emission-free vehicles are allowed, and these can be supplemented by low-emission zones (LEZs) – these can almost eliminate nitrogen dioxide caused by local traffic. The study on the five EU cities demonstrated reductions ranging from 91% to 95%. Optimistically, unambitious air pollution targets that have been proposed by the European Commission are well within reach. T&E’s research suggests that air pollution causes at least 270,000 early deaths a year in Europe, including 1,200 children and adolescents. The effectiveness of ZEZs and LEZs in reducing air pollution has already been proven by the CCC, which is why 325 LEZs are already in place across Europe, with over 500 planned by 2025, and an expectation of 35 new ZEZs to be introduced by 2030. Jens Muller, Deputy Director of CCC, has said that “the EU must set legal limits that make the air safe to breathe and force cities and governments to act by requiring the introduction of low- and zero-emission zones.” – Zoe Picton 

Fossil gas: greenwashing tactic implemented within the maritime industry. A new analysis by Transport & Environment (T&E) has concluded that shipping is responsible for around 3% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with predictions that it could account for 10% by 2050 if left unregulated. Inevitably, shipping companies have been pushed for a green transition. Currently, ships typically rely on refinery residues like heavy fuel oil (HFO) and very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO). One measure that has been implemented to ameliorate this has been for ships to run on fossil gas, namely liquified natural gas (LNG). LNG, in essence, is a natural gas that has been cooled to a liquid state for shipping and storage usage; it has frequently been advertised as an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional shipping fuel, even labelled as the “best option available today” and the “fuel for the future.” But this is alarmingly far from the truth. Research has suggested that the energy required to chill, ship, and conduct the process of regasification for LNG makes it more carbon-intensive than traditional fuel, as well as having the potential to cause methane slips and leakages. It is clear the maritime industry needs to find a safer alternative to traditional refinery residues. – Zoe Picton