UK Government Seeks to Limit Impact of Transport Strikes & EU EV Sales Stagnate: GMPB

Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Policy Brief: UK Parliament introduces bill to minimise transport disruption caused by industrial action; Electric trucks; cheaper and more sustainable than the diesel alternative; Study reveals stagnation in Europe’s EV sales; 35,000 Rail Tickets to be received by young people, granted by DiscoverEU. 

UK Parliament introduces bill to minimise transport disruption caused by industrial action. The now former UK Prime Minister, Liz Truss’, Government has introduced a bill which would shield public transport users from disruption caused by strikes and other forms of industrial action. According to the Government, “the Transport Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill means, even during the most disruptive of strikes, a certain level of services will still run. This will allow passengers to go to work, attend school and make vital medical appointments and allow businesses to continue to grow the economy.” Specifically, the legislation will seek to ensure that minimum transport services will be put in place during industrial action, and if not delivered, will impose penalties on trade unions. Such penalties include the loss of legal protections from damages. Speaking on the matter, Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “It is vital that public transport users have some continuity of service to keep Britain moving and growing – this legislation will give everyone the certainty they need to carry on with their daily lives.” Whilst trade unions have heavily criticised the proposed Bill, experts have noted that public transport strikes have had the effect of increasing private vehicle usage. Indeed, in a blog post, Dr Susan Kenyon, a Principal Lecturer in Politics at Canterbury Christ Church University noted that “there is potential that the strikes will have a very negative effect on how we feel about public transport, affecting perceptions of reliability, safety and the overall desirability of public transport, vis-à-vis other modes.” At this time, it is unclear whether the bill will be enacted into law in the coming months.  – Thomas Jérémie Hayden-Lefebvre

Electric trucks; cheaper and more sustainable than the diesel alternatives. A recent study by independent experts, TNO, shows that effectively all new electric freight trucks (including long-haul), will be cheaper to run than diesel trucks, even when driving the same distances and carrying as much cargo. According to the study, 99.8% of new electric freight trucks will be cheaper to own and run by 2035, the year internal combustion engine models are forecasted to be phased out. The small gap to 100% can easily be solved by trucks making an extra charging stop, whilst still being cheaper to buy and run, cutting costs for hauliers. Nearly all freight trucks travelling in Europe cover less than 800km a day – easily within the range of the newest battery electric trucks if charged in the driver’s legally required breaks. Transport Environment (T&E), who commissioned the study with Agora Verkehrswende, claims the study answers any doubts over whether electric trucks are viable on cost and operational dimensions. – Bethan Alderson  

Study reveals stagnation in Europe’s EV sales  The senior director at Transport & Environment (T&E) Julia Poliscanova has accused Europe of having “slammed the brakes on their electric car offering” while China and the U.S. are “rapidly bringing new models to the market”. The latest figures from T&E show that electric vehicle sales fell from 13 % in the last half of 2021 to 11% in the first half of 2022, while China’s increased to 18% and the U.S by 50% in the same period. Supply-chain issues in Europe are cited as an overarching cause but the specific slack of Europe’s performance is put at the door of European lawmakers, who’s poor regulatory incentives are failing to encourage the production of EV’s. T&E recommends using EU funds and national measures and a bolstered commitment by the European Parliament and EU environment ministers for a 100% reduction in CO2 emissions for all new cars by 2035 to “accelerate” EV production beyond their current minimum targets. Another issue is the influx of Chinese manufactures into the European market, projected to increase from its current 5%, to 9-18% by 2025, which could put millions of future European jobs at risk. Anxiety at this has been mobilised by the populist right, like Italian politician Matteo Salvini, who critiques net-zero policy which can “fire people in Italy and give China an advantage”. Transport and Environment recommends Europe adopts a strong industrial policy that prioritises local sources, on the scale seen by the U.S.’s Inflation Reduction Act and China’s state incentives for electric vehicle production. Other recommendations include a commitment to a fully electrified corporate fleet by 2030, an opposition to tax credits and exemptions for e-fuels and a removal of the ZLEV benchmark. Current EU targets see EV sales up to 55% by 2030, but T&E predicts a voluntary commitment by manufacturers helped by the right EU incentives could increase the share to 75% saving 135 MtCO2 in emissions. Poliscanova sums up that “the continent’s climate and jobs are at stake” if Europe does not provide “muscular support for EV’s”. – Ollie Jenkins 

35,000 Rail Tickets to be received by young people, granted by DiscoverEU. 35,000 young people will be awarded a rail pass to explore Europe, thanks to the DiscoverEU autumn call, released by the Commission last week. Applicants from the Erasmus+ programme can apply on the European Youth Portal, between the 11-25 October, where they have the chance to win by answering 6 questions on general knowledge about the European Union and their initiatives for young people. Applicants born in 2004, and who have successfully completed the questions, will then have the chance to explore Europe for up to 30 days between March 2023 and February 2024, gaining the opportunity to visit destinations on the UNESCO World Heritage List and the European Capitals of Culture. The programme aims to support young people in gaining travel experience, improving foreign language skills and understanding other cultures and European history, whilst promoting sustainability – particularly travel by rail.  – Bethan Alderson