UK & French Transport Ministers Discuss Decarbonisation & PHEV Pollution Higher Than Claimed: GMPB

Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Magazine Policy Brief: Transport Secretary holds talks in Paris on border controls and decarbonisation efforts; Plug-in hybrids pollute more than claimed in cities and on commutes, new tests show; UK opens consultation on Zero-Emissions airports; EU Leaders Supportive of Green Subsidy Plans.

Transport Secretary holds talks in Paris on border controls and decarbonisation efforts. On February 9th UK Transport Secretary Mark Harper met French counterpart Clement Beaune to discuss the nations’ plans for decarbonised transport networks. Specifically, they focused on the target to implement the EU’s new Entry/Exit System (EES) by the end of 2023, stressing the importance of maintaining reliable, quick and safe transport links between the two countries. Before this, Harper had met with the Getlink Group, signalling the UK’s allegiance to support the preparations for EES. Harper later attended a meeting with Eurostar CEO Gwendoline Cazenave at Gare du Nord, Paris. Within this meeting, they addressed the pulling topics of border-related challenges, the prevention of queues, and the future growth of the international rail sector. The UK Transport Secretary then met with the European Space Agency in order to discuss support options for the UK’s spaceflight ambitions, following the country’s recent investment into their first operational spaceport in Cornwall. Later occurred a meeting with Hiba Fares of the Paris Transport Authority Regie Autonome des Transport Parisiens (RATP), in which Harper was briefed on their dissemination of zero-emission buses and the recovery of this industry post-pandemic. To summarise, Harper noted a continued commitment from both countries ‘to build on the deep and longstanding Anglo-French relationship’.  – Josie Waddington

Plug-in hybrids pollute more than claimed in cities and on commutes, new tests show. Tests results on plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) C02 levels have indicated a significantly larger emission rate than originally claimed, specifically on commuter and city routes. Within this test, BMW PHEVs polluted three times their advertised amount (Graz University of Technology). Peugeot 308 and Renault Megane plug-ins had better performances, but still produced between 20% and 70% more pollution than advertised. These findings confirm Transport & Environments (T&E) 2020 discovery that PHEVs pollute significantly more than advertised on longer routes, backing up their call for reform on emissions taxes. T&E vehicle emissions manager Anna Krajinska has labelled the advertisement of PHEVs as the perfect combination of local and long-distance travel needs, ‘a myth’. What’s more, the geo-fencing technology apparently adapting PHEVs to zero-emission city driving has failed to do so. When tested in the city of Graz, the BMW equipped with geo-fencing technology still switched on the regular engine twice. T&E have stated that this technology does not guarantee zero-emission driving in cities and may even risk an emissions increase outside of city zones. On top of this, PHEVs cost considerably more to own than battery EVs. Krajinska has called for governments to ‘end all purchase subsidiaries for PHEVs… and instead encourage companies to use battery electric cars, which are truly zero emissions’. Notably, last year alone saw the EU taxpayer fund around €350 million of purchase subsidiaries for more highly polluting BMW, Peugeot and Renault PHEVs.  – Josie Waddington

UK opens consultation on Zero-Emissions airports. The UK government aims to decarbonise the aviation sector by 2050 through the Jet Zero Strategy (JZS) where the strategy includes international leadership, maximising opportunities, and annual monitoring every five years. The UK Government has created an even more ambitious goal for all English airport operations to be net zero by 2040. 2019 saw the UK become the first leading economy to legislate climate pledges by 2050, meaning to reduce emissions in all sectors but especially in hard to abate sectors which include aviation. Since 24% of the UK’s emissions in 2020 were caused by the transport sector, this resulted in the later creation of the JZS. The JZS emphasises developing new technology, whilst searching for ways to decarbonise the sector. After the strategy was published, an international commitment for net zero by 2050 was agreed on at the International Civil Aviation Organisation Assembly.  The UK government recognises the importance airports have on the economy, where Heathrow alone is predicted to contribute almost £4.7 billion to the UK economy by 2025. Therefore, it is hoped that the zero-emission target will provide a social licence for further development and positively benefit the economy. – Tia Fishlock 

EU Leaders Supportive of Green Subsidy Plans. After the latest meeting between EU leaders, initiatives regarding the European Commission’s green industrial plan were decided. However, the finer details are to be decided by executives back in Brussels. The EU Commission will need to try to simplify state aid, unlock existing EU funding and simplify the regulatory environment for industries essential for meeting EU decarbonising targets. The Commission will work to produce further comprehensive aims before the next EU leader summit which is on the 23rd-24th March. Uncertainty over the funding of the green plan was also discussed, along with the EU Sovereignty Fund being questioned at the talks. The leaders understood the Commission’s intention to create a new fund and increase investment in strategic sectors by summer 2023. French leaders at the meeting spoke of another round of joint borrowing, but German leaders were unsure of this route and called for easier national subsidies. The consensus of the meeting found leaders agreeing on the fact that procedures need to be simpler, more precise, and faster. Additionally, the integrity of the single market and respect for participating nations was also acknowledged by the majority.  – Tia Fishlock

Image: 

Department For Transport. Licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0.

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