Fab funding, souped-up shipping & space slip-up

Your weekly update of all things transport

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SUVs are gaining in popularity, which means emissions targets may be harder to meet, according to new analysis by the International Energy Agency. For everything related to EU mobility policy, check out our new briefing.

MEPs are meeting in Strasbourg for their monthly plenary session; no transport committee meeting until next month. A lot of the lawmakers, plus Michel Barnier, turned up late after the train they were on suffered a five hour delay.

The Nobel Prize for Chemistry may have gone to the pioneers of the lithium battery but there’s one material not many are talking about but which nearly all of us rely on: lead.

Croatia has joined the race to host a new Volkswagen factory after plans to build it in Turkey were put on ice after its invasion of northern Syria. Serbia and Bulgaria are also vying to secure the job-creator.

The EU’s making nearly €1.5 billion available for transport and infrastructure projects. Railways, waterways, roads and more are eligible for funds, with a deadline to submit of February 2020.

Innovative ideas could well land a chunk of the money on offer. Estonia started laying its first road made out of plastic, in what the Baltic nation hopes could be the first of many circular economy-inspired roadways.

Audi announced a whole new wave of plug-in hybrids going on sale soon. Of note is its A6 model, which will emit less than 50g of CO2 per kilometre. That makes it eligible for supercredits under the EU’s 2020/21 emissions target.

In aviation news, the EU’s safety agency, EASA, authorised Turkmenistan Airlines to operate flights in the single market, while Ryanair announced that it will start flights to Armenia’s capital, Yerevan.

EASA’s US equivalent, the FAA, found itself embroiled further in the Boeing MAX saga: the flaw that led to two fatal crashes was allegedly known about in 2016.

Romania’s government was ousted earlier this month and national carrier Tarom was allegedly asked to ground flights so opposition MPs wouldn’t be able to make it back for the vote.

The UK government should up its investment into green aviation tech in order to make good on its climate pledges, according to the British flying industry.

Brexit continues to stagger along at its unpredictable rate and even though a “managed exit” looks likelier than a month ago, truckers at the Port of Rotterdam have still been given leaflets on what happens in case of no-deal.

Shipping giants Hapaq Lloyd and MSC have promised not to use Arctic routes, in a move hailed by environmental groups. Sector leader Maersk has been urged to do the same, although it recently trialled a new shipping lane across the top of Russia.

Emissions from shipping increase the effects of climate change but a special visitor to the Port of Brussels hopes to change that. Hydroville runs on hydrogen power, a fuel option that the sector is interested in adopting.

And in outer space, two US astronauts completed the first ever all-female spacewalk. Donald Trump phoned the International Space Station to congratulate them but, predictably, got his facts mixed up

What else I’m reading

  • The right way to measure emissions [Economist]
  • Greening of Paris makes Mayor a few enemies [NYT]
  • Why powering a city with bikes is impossible [Oil Price]
  • World’s longest flights aren’t meant for cattle class [Bloomberg]

Next stops

MEPs in Strasbourg will touch on a number of transport issues, including the fallout of the collapse of tour operator Thomas Cook. Full plenary agenda here.

The International Astronautical Council 2019 is underway in Washington and will last all week.

The European Road Safety Charter holds a webinar on e-scooter safety this afternoon from 4pm.

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