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In less than 15 years, Volkswagen, one of the world’s largest car manufacturers, will stop selling internal combustion engine vehicles in Europe. Instead, the German automobile giant will shift its focus to electric cars.
There’s no doubt that the move is spurred in part by EU regulations, which have forced manufacturers to produce cleaner vehicles, often against the backdrop of industry protest.
New emission standards set to be unveiled by the European Commission on 14 July as part of a broader climate laws package will be the toughest set by the bloc yet.
Leaked drafts have led to outrage among some in the automobile industry, who have termed it a de facto ban on internal combustion engines. But the anger seems futile at this stage: When an industry leader like Volkswagen signals its intention to change, it’s a sign of what the future will look like.
But what about those vehicles already on the road? Greater electrification will cut emissions in years to come (well, at least tailpipe emissions – it depends on how the electricity is generated), but that doesn’t solve the problem of how to decarbonise the millions of vehicles in use.
The answer, according to the liquid fuel industry, is to ramp up the percentage of biofuels in the fuel mix.
“If we are to achieve our objective, we have to be extremely pragmatic as opposed to dogmatic,” said Valérie Corre, president of ethanol producers’ association ePURE.
“If it decarbonises, it should be promoted in the EU,” she added.
Read more about the discussion on decarbonising road transport below.
EU travel certificate won’t stop airport chaos, fears industry
The EU’s digital travel certificate, set to be rolled out across the continent from Thursday (1 July), is supposed to make travelling simple. But airlines and airports are nervous.
Industry representatives are concerned by what they call a “worrying patchwork of approaches” taken across the EU, with many member states opting to process the certificates manually in airports.
“As passenger traffic increases in the coming weeks, the risk of chaos at European Airports is real,” the groups said in a joint letter to EU national leaders on Monday.
To avoid hour-long queues, airline and airport groups want both the vaccination certificate and passenger locator forms to be processed online at home, before a traveller sets foot in an airport.
The EU’s digital travel certificate shows a traveller’s vaccine status, recent COVID test results, and whether the certificate holder had the virus within the last six months. It is intended to help restart the travel and tourism sector.
Read more about the industry’s travel concerns below.
Will the sustainable aviation fuel mandate hurt small producers?
The EU will soon oblige airliners to refuel with green jet fuel at airports within the EU, a move designed to cut aviation emissions while low-carbon aircraft technology matures.
News of the regulation has opened a discussion as to what constitutes a sustainable aviation fuel, with industry and NGOs weighing in.
The European Waste-to-Advanced Biofuels Association (EWABA) has warned that if animal fats and used cooking oils were to be included in the sustainable aviation fuel mandate, this would have a devastating effect on the industry.
While most SMEs in the industry process so-called waste lipids into biodiesel, they are unable to further refine it into jet fuel.
In fact, only a handful of mega-refineries in Europe have that capability – refineries owned by some of the bloc’s largest fuel companies, such as Neste, Total, and Repsol.
EWABA says the legislation would essentially enable industry giants to buy up waste supplies, leaving SMEs with a lack of feedstock to process.
Such a scenario would force smaller players in the advanced and waste-based biodiesel industry to close more than 50 plants that indirectly employ more than 25,000 people, EWABA warned.
Read more below.
EU policymakers’ focus on electric vehicles risks overlooking the need to decarbonise internal combustion engine (ICE) cars currently on EU roads, representatives from the European fuel and automotive industry have warned.
Groups representing Europe’s largest airlines and airports have warned of chaos and hours-long queues unless countries better coordinate the roll-out of the EU’s digital COVID-19 certificate and ensure passengers are processed before arriving at airports.
An EU mandate for the use of animal fats and used cooking oils in sustainable aviation fuel is set to enrich large biofuel players such as Total and Neste, at the expense of most of the industry, the European Waste-to-Advanced Biofuels Association (EWABA) has warned.
A leaked draft of a key EU policy designed to cut carbon emissions in shipping, one of the world’s biggest polluters, has been described as an environmental disaster for “promoting” liquified natural gas, a fossil fuel, as an alternative to heavy oil. EURACTIV’s media partner, The Guardian, reports.