UK Supports Taxi Electrification as EU Seeks to Curb Shipping Pollution: GMPB

Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Policy Brief: EU: Stricter Measures Agreed to Curb Shipping Pollution; UK Government Extends Funding to Support Black Cab Drivers in Going Green; Chinese Rail Manufacturer Target of Commission’s First In-Depth Investigation under the Foreign Subsidies Regulation; and EU Reaches Deal with Council to Improve Air Quality, Aims for Zero Pollution by 2050.

Port-side Power: A Key Factor in Reducing Shipping Emissions

EU: Stricter Measures Agreed to Curb Shipping Pollution

To enhance maritime safety and environmental protection, negotiators from the European Parliament and Council have reached an informal deal to expand regulations to prevent pollution from ships. The agreement, reached last Thursday, extends the existing ban on the discharge of oil spills to include sewage and garbage, marking a significant step towards cleaner seas and a more sustainable maritime future. The updated rules will expand the list of substances banned from being discharged from ships to include sewage, garbage, and residues from scrubbers. This expansion reflects a commitment to reducing the impact of shipping on marine ecosystems. To ensure compliance and prevent illegal discharges from going undetected, the agreement includes provisions for more robust verification procedures. This includes the digital checking of alerts from the CleanSeaNet satellite system and an aim to verify at least 25% of high-confidence alerts by national authorities. Moreover, EU countries will be required to introduce effective and dissuasive fines for ships that breach these rules. The agreement also emphasises that penalties should be set at a level that ensures their dissuasive nature, reflecting the seriousness of the offences. Marian-Jean Marinescu, the European Parliament’s rapporteur, highlighted the importance of robust enforcement, stating, “Ensuring the health of our seas demands not just legislation, but robust enforcement. Member states must not falter in their duty to safeguard our marine environment.” The preliminary deal still needs to be approved by the Council and Parliament. EU countries will have 30 months to transpose the new rules into national law and prepare for implementation.

Advanced Biofuels: Building the Bridge to Low-carbon Shipping

UK Government Extends Funding to Support Black Cab Drivers in Going Green

The UK government has announced an extension to the Plug-in Taxi Grant to further bolster the shift towards greener transportation. This move will facilitate more black cab drivers transitioning to electric vehicles, contributing to a cleaner and more sustainable future for the country’s roads. Initially introduced in 2017, the grant has already proven successful, providing over £50 million in support and aiding the purchase of more than 9,000 zero-emission cabs. The extension will see funding continue until April 5, 2025, offering a rate of £6,000 per vehicle. This extension aims to provide certainty and encouragement to cab drivers planning to switch to electric within the next year. The impact of the Plug-in Taxi Grant is already evident, with over 54% (8,299) of London’s licensed taxis now being electric. In the past year alone, the number of electric taxis has increased by 24%, showcasing the grant’s effectiveness in driving change within the industry. Anthony Browne, the Technology and Decarbonisation Minister, expressed his support for the black cab industry, highlighting the importance of taxis in the transport network. He emphasised the government’s commitment to backing drivers and promoting the adoption of electric vehicles as part of its broader plan. The success of the grant has also led to significant milestones, such as the electric taxi market surpassing diesel taxi sales in London in 2022. Nationally, more than one in ten (12%) taxis are now zero-emission capable, marking a significant shift towards cleaner transportation. Since 2011, the government has allocated over £1.9 billion in grant funding to decarbonise roads, supporting purchasing over 350,000 zero-emission vehicles. Additionally, the government’s Plan for Drivers includes the accelerated rollout of EV chargepoints, with over 55,000 public chargepoints now available nationwide.

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Chinese Rail Manufacturer Target of Commission’s First In-Depth Investigation under the Foreign Subsidies Regulation

The European Commission has launched its first in-depth investigation under the Foreign Subsidies Regulation, targeting potential market distortions caused by foreign subsidies. This move underscores the Commission’s commitment to safeguarding the internal market’s integrity and ensuring fair competition. The investigation stems from a notification by CRRC Qingdao Sifang Locomotive Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of CRRC Corporation, a Chinese state-owned train manufacturer. The notification pertains to a public procurement procedure initiated by Bulgaria’s Ministry of Transport and Communications for the supply of electric “push-pull” trains and maintenance and staff training services. Under the Foreign Subsidies Regulation, companies must notify their EU public procurement tenders if the contract’s estimated value exceeds €250 million and if the company has received at least €4 million in foreign financial contributions from a third country in the preceding three years. The Commission’s preliminary review found sufficient indications that CRRC Qingdao Sifang Locomotive received a foreign subsidy, distorting the internal market. The investigation will assess whether this subsidy conferred an undue advantage, allowing the company to submit a more favourable tender. During the investigation, the Commission will examine the alleged foreign subsidies and their impact on fair competition. At the end of the process, the Commission may accept commitments from the company, prohibit the contract award, or issue a no-objection decision. The Foreign Subsidies Regulation, in effect since 12 July 2023, aims to address distortions caused by foreign subsidies in the EU’s internal market. It provides the Commission with tools to ensure a level playing field for all companies while maintaining openness to trade and investment.

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EU Reaches Deal with Council to Improve Air Quality, Aims for Zero Pollution by 2050

In a significant move towards a cleaner and healthier environment, the European Parliament and Council negotiators have reached a provisional political agreement on new measures to ensure air quality in the EU is not harmful to human health, natural ecosystems, and biodiversity. The deal, announced on Tuesday, aims to eliminate air pollution in the EU by 2050. The new law sets stricter 2030 limits and target values for several pollutants, including particulate matter (PM2.5, PM10), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and sulphur dioxide (SO2), compared to current rules. For PM2.5 and NO2, the annual limit values will be more than halved, from 25 µg/m³ to 10 µg/m³ and from 40 µg/m³ to 20 µg/m³, respectively. More air quality sampling points in cities will also be established. Member states can request a postponement of the 2030 deadline to attain the air quality limit values by up to ten years under specific conditions. This includes cases where necessary reductions can only be achieved by replacing a considerable part of existing domestic heating systems, causing pollution exceedances. Moreover, the agreement aims to make air quality indices across the EU comparable, clear, and publicly available. These indices will provide information about symptoms associated with air pollution peaks and the health risks for each pollutant, tailored to vulnerable groups. Citizens and environmental NGOs will be granted access to justice to challenge the implementation of the directive in member states. Rapporteur Javi López emphasised the importance of the agreement, stating, “Today’s agreement is a major step in our ongoing efforts to ensure a cleaner and healthier future for all Europeans.” He highlighted the focus on improved air quality monitoring near major pollution sources, protecting sensitive and vulnerable populations more robustly, and ensuring local authorities have the support they need to enforce the new standards effectively. The deal still needs to be adopted by the Parliament and Council, after which the new law will be published in the EU Official Journal and enter into force 20 days later. EU countries will then have two years to apply the new rules.

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