Catch-up ‘20, Montalbano mishap & sheep salvation

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To kick off the new year, we’ll catch up on some of the things that were in the news over the past month, as well as what’s happening this week.

🚢 The Shipping News

The maritime world is adapting to new sulphur emissions rules as of 1 January. Fuel can now only contain a maximum of 0.5%, down from 3.5%. This is how the Commission reacted and this is how fuel refiners are dealing with changing demand.

Changes to fuel are not the only big change shippers will have to contend with this year. Work has already begun on including the sector in the EU’s emissions trading scheme (ETS), one of the main transport-focused details in the Green Deal.

We understand that work is already well underway at the Commission and that MEPs are ready to help push the item through the legislative process.

Shipping companies are signing up more and more to a voluntary pledge that makes controversial Arctic routes off limits to traffic. It means that more than 1,300 boats will not use the vulnerable region to transport goods.

One hundred and eighty Romanian sheep, rescued from a capsized ship in November, were granted a reprieve following a tragedy that claimed the lives of more than 1,000 of their fellow ovines. They no longer face the chop and have been adopted by animal sanctuaries.

🚗 Driven

Europe’s top carmakers are on track to fall short of their 2021 CO2 reduction targets, according to a new study. Toyota is closest to hitting its benchmark, while Fiat-Chrysler is one of the furthest off. Large fines await if the gaps do not close in time.

Ireland rang in the new year by launching an all-electric bus service. Rechargeable in 50 minutes and operating between Dublin Airport and a number of hotels, the Volvo bus is a first for the country.

According to Norway’s road authorities, no children aged 0-15 died in traffic accidents in the whole of 2019.

Italy’s roads are anything but similar to their Norwegian equivalents though. The actor who plays TV’s most famous Italian detective, inspector Montalbano, was knocked off his scooter. Luca Zingaretti was unhurt by the incident thankfully.

Ferrari became the latest member of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), six years after it was spun off from parent company Fiat-Chrysler (FCA), which is already a member. FCA agreed last year to a tie-up with the Peugeot group.

🚄 On track

Night trains are firmly back in vogue, here are some great reads published recently on the Trans-Mongolian Express, the Cologne-Vienna service and 20 trips you should do in 2020.  

That Vienna service will as of next week come all the way to Brussels, marking the first time in years that a night train service will operate from Belgium. Here’s some footage of the locomotive coming into Midi station as part of its dry run.

Given that train travel is gaining in popularity, at least on paper, what’s stopping people from using rail even more? The European Data Journalism Network looked into that very question and here are the findings.

Passengers need to do their homework though, as a new EU survey found that half of its respondents are not aware of the wide-body of rules that safeguard rights. A review is underway and the new Commission is hopeful of progress in the negotiations.

✈️ Sky-high

Irish government departments will now have to calculate the cost of aviation emissions when ministers and officials use air travel. Using a price of €26 per tonne, the costs will be paid into the state’s climate fund.

The head of European airline group IAG, Willie Walsh, announced his retirement. He leaves his successor the daunting task of navigating changing consumer attitudes to flying and the industry’s environmental impact.

Flying is not the only issue causing angst for those with a green conscious. When it comes to travelling in general, transport links and accommodation also play a role. A new study looks into how much your break away could be costing the planet.

Croatia’s presidency of the EU kicked off at the beginning of the month in Zagreb and the increased focus already looks to be paying off. Air France has increased the number of flights to the capital for the summer months. 

Boeing had hoped that its grounded 737 MAX aircraft would be back in the skies as of this month but the planes remain out of action. New documents have revealed the ugly culture among employees at the US aerospace giant.

🚀 Spaced-out

The European Court of Auditors has launched a review of how EU money has been spent on space assets like the Galileo and Copernicus satellite systems. A full report is due by the end of the year.

Copernicus, the EU’s market-leading Earth-observation tool has been hard at work. Its instruments have confirmed December was Europe’s hottest on record and it has been deployed in Australia to help track the horrendous wildfires.

📖 What else I’m reading

  • Transport’s busy 2020 ahead [Euractiv]
  • Germany to Canada… By cargo ship [Guardian]
  • Sea-going robot designed to deploy in remote oceans [E&T]
  • EU tells airlines to avoid Iran [Euronews]
  • US seeks faster military satellite launches [Economist]

⏰ Next stops

The first Brussels-Vienna night train service pulls out of the station on the evening of 20 January. Bon voyage to anyone lucky enough to be onboard.

MEPs on the transport committee meet 20 January onwards in Brussels. Highlights include the Croatian presidency outlining its priorities. Agenda available here.

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