Finland features, Ursula undone & airline angst

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Finland wants to inject a hefty dose of sustainability into the EU during its presidency. Researchers are working on everything from replacing cotton with wood-based options to extending battery life and cutting down on precious materials.

The city of Lahti is also trialling a personal emissions trading scheme managed via an app, meant to change people’s transport habits. Users stand to be rewarded with free coffees and gym classes if they keep their personal carbon budget low enough.

Presidency guests can visit Finland flight-shame-free, as the government has set aside €500,000 to offset aviation emissions. Read more about how the offset scheme will work here.

Airline chiefs are big fans of offsetting rather than new taxes. The heads of Ryanair and British Airways said last week in Brussels that “there is no shame in flying” and insisted tech updates will win the day.

Ryanair has reportedly removed the ‘MAX’ name from its delivery of new Boeing 737 aircraft, prompting aviation analysts to question whether the carrier is trying to dupe passengers into thinking they are on a different type of plane.

New figures suggest European airlines will pay €5bn in taxes and emissions trading (ETS) fees in 2019. For more on jet-fuel taxes and where Germany stands in all this, click here.

Czech Airlines lost a case at the ECJ on multi-leg flight journeys, while Aegean Airlines triumphed in another hearing on who is liable for compensation when flights are booked through a tour operator.

MEPs elected Green lawmaker Karima Delli to head up the transport committee for the next five years. The Frenchwoman wasted no time in prioritising a final deal on the mobility package.

Delli also locked horns with Commission boss-wannabe Ursula von der Leyen. The MEP was disappointed by the German’s answers, which skirted the issue of Dieselgate and clean mobility. Delli will join the rest of her Green colleagues in opposing her candidacy.

During Q&As will the main political groups, von der Leyen banged the drum for more climate action, which would include tweaks to the ETS to incorporate all transport and buildings by 2030. However, the carbon price would, by some estimates, have to be huge.

In Ukraine, electric car drivers can now drive between Kyiv and Odessa thanks to new high-speed chargers. The head of the initiative said that EV owners would “no longer by held hostage in big cities”.

Fiat-Chrysler wanted to merge with Renault to benefit from the French firm’s EV know-how. But despite the tie-up’s failure, the Italo-American outfit is now investing €700m to develop an electric version of its hugely popular 500 car.

Emmanuel Macron said France would set up a new space force but check out footage of this amazing flyboard. An ESA rocket, carrying a new observation satellite, failed during blast-off, while the EU’s Galileo system has been laid low by a technical fault.

Latvia’s rail network is set for a €318m boost from EU funding. The plan is to replace diesel trains and electrify the east-west corridor. Only 14% of its network is electrified, well below the 55% EU average.

A UK government plan says that all new ships built for use in British waters after 2025 must be equipped with zero-emission tech. Check out this footage of the largest container ship in the world, a draw-dropping vessel by any account.

The Dutch city of Utrecht has given the positive impact of cycling an economic value by calculating its ‘Gross Cycling Product’. Calculations show that the community saves €250m thanks to pedal power. Read more here.

What else I’m reading

  • Carmakers urged to address brake and tyre pollution [Business Green
  • E-bikes trump e-cars in climate battle [Cycling Weekly]
  • Building bigger roads makes traffic worse [Wired]
  • NASA reveals map of 4,000 planets beyond solar system [Design taxi]

Next stops

MEPs vote later this evening on Ursula von der Leyen’s Commission candidacy

Transport MEPs assemble 24 July for their first proper committee meeting

The Transport Brief takes a well-earned break until the end of August. Thanks for subscribing and clicking, I’ll be bringing you even more updates as the Commission looks for its next transport chief and much much more!

Upcoming events

Join us on 6 November for a high-level event supported by BMW. We’ll look into what action is needed to achieve a carbon-neutral mobility sector and to reach the EU’s 2030 and 2050 targets. Is there a single solution or do we need to look at a mixture? Details here.

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