Von Der Leyen Outlines Green Industrial Plan as U.S. Publishes Mobility Transformation Blueprint: GMPB

Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Policy Brief: Von Der Leyen outlines Green Deal Industrial Plan; The U.S. National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization: A Joint Strategy to Transform Transportation; Transport decarbonisation can only be achieved with degrowth, study finds; Stellantis ends all lobbying activities.

Von Der Leyen outlines the Green Deal Industrial Plan. President of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen, addressed the EU Green Deal Industrial Plan at the World Economic Forum. The Plan aims to guide Europe’s cleantech initiatives addressing the following four pillars: the regulatory environment, financing, skills, and trade. The first aim of the Plan is to increase the speed and access people and industries must use green technology that will help achieve reduced carbon emissions. Therefore, a new Net-Zero Industry Act will be produced to clarify European clean energy targets to be met by 2030. The targets will be achieved through investing in strategic projects throughout the whole supply chain to ease the process of green technology production. This new Act will accompany the Critical Raw Materials Act so Europe can better its processing and recycling of raw materials to be used in clean technology infrastructure. Secondly, the Plan will secure investments into the clean-tech sector to increase competition and incentivise clean-tech companies to invest into Europe. This will result in a change in state aid rules, for instance new tax break models, to speed up abilities for further investments. However, Von Der Leyen recognises that not every EU member has the capacity to apply state aid so EU funding must increase. The Plan then aims to upskill workers to create the transition to green energy use. Educating workers connects to both the previous pillars and so this will be achieved through the European Year of Skills. Finally, the Plan will allow for smoother trade for all through better supply chains. International trade will be vital to increase markets; trade agreements may be necessary to facilitate this ideal. Overall, the road to net zero is not easy but the Plan hopes to guide Europe in the right direction for a greener future. – Tia Fishlock

The U.S. National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization: A Joint Strategy to Transform Transportation. In September 2022, the leaders of the U.S. Departments of Energy, Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development, along with the Environmental Protection Agency signed a memorandum of understanding which calls for the introduction of strategies to decarbonize the transportation sector. Following this, in January 2023 the Government released the U.S. National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization, addressing the climate crisis and offering to meet President Biden’s goals of a 100% clean electrical grid by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This blueprint includes the development and deployment of clean-energy technologies such as EVs and hydrogen fuels, whilst also building the supporting infrastructure for clean transportation. Currently, the transportation sector accounts for a third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and transportation costs are the second largest annual household expense. The new blueprint is set to not only lower carbon emissions in the U.S. but also to increase employment and strengthen America’s energy independence. – Charlotte Goldstone

Transport decarbonisation can only be achieved with degrowth, study finds. The LOCOMOTION project has recently published research judging different methods which aim to decarbonise the transport sector by 2050. These methods were: expected electric vehicle (EV) trends, EV High, E-bikes and degrowth. However, the study concluded that degrowth was the only plausible answer when accounting for the current material resources available. The study also found recycling to have its constraints in relation to EVs, where high end-of-life targets did not always correlate to a high amount of material used in EV manufacturing to have been originally recycled. The reason being was because new materials were in constant demand, whereas delays in recycled materials are often seen due to high quantities of stored material which are still in use. Furthermore, the study pushes for a greater focus on EV transport modes which have a higher energy return on investment, for instance shared and public transportation. The paradox of EVs is how they require more energy to manufacture compared to internal combustion engine vehicles, albeit need less energy from the grid to work. Due to the energy stored on energy invested for EVs being low combined with today’s high fossil fuel consumption, the greenhouse gas emissions of EVs will not be impactful unless the energy mix is reformed. Therefore, degrowth is the best solution to truly decarbonising the transport industry since it causes the least amount of pressure on resources when compared to electrifying transport models. Degrowth is not without its challenges though; where a shift in policies, economic models and cultures would be needed globally. – Tia Fishlock

Stellantis ends all lobbying activities. Following his exit from the European automakers’ lobby group (ACEA), Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares has now decided to halt the automaker’s lobbying altogether. Tavares explains that this decision is a result of frustrating experiences with politicians over the increasingly tougher regulations on emissions, believing that EU politicians and officials are not fully considering concerns from automakers that tougher emissions limits are harming the industry. After a zero-emissions target for 2035, Taveras noted that “the pragmatic view tries to reduce CO2 levels as broadly and effectively as possible through a clever mix of propulsion technologies. The dogmatic view believes that this goal can only be achieved with battery-electric vehicles”. Instead, Stellantis plans an annual ‘Freedom of Mobility’ event in order to promote a broad public dialogue with stakeholders from all sectors to discuss how to bring about clean, safe, and affordable freedom of mobility. The automaker’s Chief Executive notes that “we can no longer wait for governments to make decisions — we have to run faster than regulation.” – Charlotte Goldstone

Image:  Copyright: World Economic Forum/Sikarin Fon Thanachaiary