UK Sets Sights on Sustainable Skies as USA Proposes Stringent Pollution Standards on Cars and Trucks: GMPB

Covered in this week’s green mobility policy brief: UK aviation industry and government set sights on more sustainable skies; Biden Harris administration proposes strongest-ever pollution standards for cars and trucks to accelerate transition to a clean-transportation future; new investment plan has the potential to meet net zero targets and create employment throughout England and Wales; EU driver hit with London emissions fines totalling £25,000.

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The UK aviation industry and government set sights on more sustainable skies. Between the 17th and 18th of April, UK government and aviation industry leaders descended on Farnborough Airport for the second rendition of the Sustainable Skies World Summit. During the Summit, Jet Zero Council (JZC) , a partnership between industry and the UK government with the aim of delivering at least 10% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in the UK by 2030, published a 2-year action plan in order to reach Jet Zero by 2050. Under this plan, the council committed to speeding up the design, manufacture, and rollout of zero emission aircraft and vital infrastructure at UK airports. The 2-year plan also outlines tasks pertaining to a UK SAF mandate, the world’s first SAF- fuelled transatlantic price, SAF price stability, and hydrogen-aircraft and infrastructure development. The council also established measures aimed at addressing the non-CO2 impacts of aviation. Present at the event, Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “Together, we can set aviation up for success, continue harnessing its huge social and economic benefits, and ensure it remains a core part of the UK’s sustainable economic future.” During the summit, a RAF Voyager, an Airbus A330 MRTT, operating on 43% SAF provided by IAG & British Airways, made a flypast over the Farnborough site to celebrate the commencement of the event. – Zoe Picton & Thomas Jérémie Hayden-Lefebvre

Biden-Harris Administration Proposes Strongest-Ever Pollution Standards for Cars and Trucks to Accelerate Transition to a Clean-Transportation Future. On April 12th, the Biden-Harris Administration announced new proposed vehicle emissions standards to accelerate the transition to clean transportation. The standards are set to improve air quality, avoiding nearly 10 billion tons of CO2 emissions (double the annual U.S. emissions), and reduce America’s reliance on 20 billion barrels of oil imports, hence strengthening energy security. In addition, EPA claims the acceleration of clean technologies as a result of the proposed standards would save $12,000 over a light-duty vehicle lifetime, compared to vehicles not subject to the proposed standards. Since the election of President Biden, EV sales have tripled, with model availability doubling. Furthermore, there is a total of 130,000 public charges across the U.S., with a 40% increase over 2020. The proposed standards are also expected to eliminate 7.3 billion tons of CO2 emissions through 2055, which is equal to removing greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. transportation sector for four years. The first set of proposed standards announced were the ‘Multi-Pollutant Emissions Standards for Model Years 2027 and Later Light-Duty and Medium Duty Vehicles’, which builds on current EPA standards for cars and light commercial vehicles. The second set of proposed standards ‘Greenhouse Gas Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles – Phase 3’ applies to heavy-duty vehicles which complement the pollutant standards for MY 2027. – Hannah Santry

New investment plan has the potential to meet net zero targets and create employment throughout England and Wales.  A TUC report that was published on the 12th of April outlined an investment plan for public transport across England and Wales, with a focus on meeting net-zero targets whilst boosting the UK economy, increasing UK GDP by £52 billion by 2030. The TUC, a union, claims that the investment plan fills a ‘gaping hole’ in the government’s net-zero strategy. The UK Climate Change Committee warned that EVs should not be the only focus and that to ‘reach 2030 emissions target, a reduction in total car mileage of at least 20% is needed’. The plan would require approximately £9.9 billion in annual capital expenditure up to 2035 and an expansion of public services would cost an additional £18.8 billion annually by 2030. So, what can the investment plan offer? In short, the TUC report suggested in less urbanised areas, where productivity gains are lower, the investment could support growth in sectors such as tourism and hospitality. In addition, job creation in the East Midlands could reach 10,000 in the bus industry, with 77,000 forming in the construction and manufacturing industry of the bus sector. It is also argued that an additional 9,000 East Midland jobs would be created in the rail industry. Public consultations have also been advised by TUC. Both branches of the HS2 in full could be completed, the implementation of the Midlands Rail Hub, and widened bus network coverage to every rural village, all with the funding from the investment plan. – Hannah Santry

EU driver hit with London emissions fines totalling £25,000. French driver Fernando Neiva has been fined nearly £25,000 for driving in the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), despite being exempt from the charge. The ULEZ is a scheme set up in central London which is a daily charge to the highest polluting vehicles in the area – but Neiva’s minibus was not part of the criteria of the charge. His transport service for French tourists in the UK received 12 £2,000 fines and three fines summing up to over £700 for supposedly breaching the ULEZ rules after entering the zone in Autumn 2022. Unbeknownst to him, Transport for London (TfL) have a requirement in place for EU drivers to pre-register their vehicles, and not doing so causes the vehicle to be classed as high emission. Neiva challenged the fines six months ago, even submitting proof that his van was exempt from the emissions charge. TfL has required all overseas vehicles to be registered since 2018, but fortunately, they recognised his appeal and evidence submitted and cancelled the fines, telling the Guardian they ‘apologise for any distress caused.” However, it took five months for Neiva to receive a response from the appeal and was worrying for him and the future of his company; he said, ‘It’s just a small company and we try to go by the rules.’ – Zoe Picton