Weights And Dimensions Directive Reform Key for Zero-Emissions Vehicles According to Trade Groups as MEPs Push for Tougher Air Quality Standards: GMPB

Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Policy Brief: Urgent action needed to enable the transition to zero-emission vehicles in Europe: leading EU automotive-sector trade groups; MEPs advocate for cleaner and healthier environment by setting tougher air quality standards; US invests 2.2 billion USD in community-led infrastructure projects.

Urgent action needed to enable the transition to zero-emission vehicles in Europe: leading EU automotive-sector trade groups. Representatives from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), the Platform for Electromobility, and Hydrogen Europe have joined forces to address the conditions necessary for the decarbonisation of the road transport industry by 2050. In a letter to European institutions, these industry stakeholders emphasise the need for a timely adoption and implementation of a revised Weights and Dimensions (W&D) Directive to facilitate the market uptake of zero-emission, battery-electric, and hydrogen-powered trucks, and buses. They stress that delays and uncertainties surrounding the directive would hinder the joint climate neutrality ambition and the EU’s target of reducing transport emissions by 90% by 2050. Specifically, the authors have called for simplification and harmonization of rules, additional allowances for zero-emissions vehicles, and the prioritisation of intermodal compatibility. The letter was sent to Frans Timmermans and Adina-Ioana Vălean at the European Commission, to the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Spain to the European Union, D. Marcos Alonso, who currently hold the Presidency of the Council of the EU, and to the presidents of the TRAN and ENVI Committees of the Parliament, Karima Delli and Pascal Canfin. The Commission is expected the make its proposal on the revision of the W&D Directive by the end of July 2023.

MEPs advocate for cleaner and healthier environment by setting tougher air quality standards. The European Parliament’s Environment Committee has taken a decisive step toward improving air quality across the European Union (EU). In a landmark decision, the committee adopted its position to enhance air quality standards and establish a cleaner and healthier environment. With 46 votes in favour, 41 against, and 1 abstention, the committee approved a comprehensive report that includes stricter limits and target values for key pollutants, such as particulate matter (PM2.5, PM10), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2), and ozone (O3). Recognizing the need for more accurate and extensive data, MEPs stressed the importance of increasing the number of air quality sampling points. Furthermore, MEPs propose the development of air quality roadmaps in addition to existing air quality plans. While air quality plans are already required when EU countries exceed limits, the introduction of air quality roadmaps would oblige all member states to establish short- and long-term measures to comply with the new limit values. Rapporteur Javi López (S&D, ES) expressed the urgency of addressing air pollution, referring to it as a “slow-motion pandemic” that has severe implications for society. The next step in the process will be the adoption of the European Parliament’s mandate during the plenary session scheduled for July 10-13, 2023. Following this, negotiations with the Council will commence to shape the final version of the legislation. According to the EAA, most transport-related air pollution has decreased between 1990 and 2020. However, ammonia and nitrous emissions oxides have increased.

US invests 2.2 billion USD in community-led infrastructure projects. The Biden-Harris Administration has announced a new scheme focused on improving infrastructure and promoting sustainability and equity with the announcement of over $2.2 billion in funding for 162 infrastructure projects across the United States. The grants are part of the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program, which supports projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two territories. One of the highlights of the funding is a nearly $23 million grant allocated to Orangeburg, South Carolina, for the construction of a pedestrian bridge and a multi-modal transit hub. The RAISE grant program has been expanded under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to ensure that communities of all sizes benefit from the funding. Half of the FY2023 funding is designated for rural areas, while the other half is allocated to urban areas. The projects receiving funding will improve transportation accessibility and safety, reduce bottlenecks, and promote sustainability. Investments will be made in various areas, including bridge replacements, road projects, and supply chain improvements. The grants also prioritize combating climate change, advancing equity, strengthening the supply chain, and supporting wealth creation and good-paying union jobs. Importantly, 70% of the grants will benefit regions defined as Areas of Persistent Poverty or Historically Disadvantaged Communities.