Green on the outside only

Subscribe to EURACTIV's Transport Brief, where you’ll find the latest roundup of news covering mobility from across Europe.

Greetings and welcome to the EURACTIV transport newsletter!

Below you’ll find the latest roundup of mobility news from across Europe.

Want to suggest a story? Or just say a digital hello? Drop me a line at:

Receive the Transport Brief in your inbox by subscribing here.

The climate crisis and LGBTQ+ pride month have something in common – they’re both an opportunity for large companies to performatively demonstrate their values. But values that must contend with profits are fluid, they are more of a river with divergent streams than an immovable mountain.

Companies are willing to change their logo to include the rainbow colours of the pride flag, unless, of course, such a move would contradict local sensibilities and harm revenues. Gay rights are a corporate conviction – so long as they chime with sales.

Similarly, companies are happy to fly the green flag in front of a receptive public, which now includes the vast majority of the EU. The reality of climate change is essentially uncontroversial here – unlike across the Atlantic Ocean, where a climate-sceptic administration dictated environmental policy only months ago.

But going green is costly. Cutting emissions necessitates new ways of doing business and that means expensive, at times radical change.

This presents a problem for many European companies. The days of the classic PR tactic of using FUD – fear, uncertainty, and doubt – are over when it comes to the climate. Those unhappy with ambitious climate legislation must find a new way to proceed, one that targets policymakers but avoids the risk of public backlash.

The solution, according to a report recently released by InfluenceMap, a climate lobbying watchdog, is to publicly embrace sustainability – even demand greater sustainability – while lobbying against green measures in private.

The report accuses Europe’s largest airlines of being “some of the most significant opponents of ambitious climate policy in the region”, likening their lobbying tactics to the oil sector.

“Despite the increasingly positive top-line statements by Europe’s airlines about acting on climate change, this report shows that behind the scenes, the same airlines have been trying to delay or undermine real-world policies being put forward to help decarbonise the sector,” said InfluenceMap aviation analyst Ben Youriev.

Specifically, the airlines have been campaigning against the EU Emissions Trading System and trying to weaken the Sustainable Aviation Fuels blending mandate, according to the report.

The airline industry responded quickly. Airlines for Europe (A4E), a leading trade association, called the report “factually incorrect” and said it “fails to reflect the collective actions and investments made by European airlines to address climate change”.

The response followed a familiar industry narrative – if airlines have their money stripped by the green zealots striding the halls of power in Brussels, they won’t be able to invest in the clean technology needed to really cut emissions.

But will these revelations lead to a consumer backlash? Don’t bet on it, says a Reuters report.

To learn more about lobbying by Airbus and Air France, read the article below.

COVID-19 travel pass becomes law

The EU digital COVID travel pass, formerly known as the green certificate, was officially signed into law at a ceremony attended by the heads of the European Parliament, Council, and Commission on Monday (14 June).

The certificate, which will be available from 1 July, aims to make travelling within the EU easier, providing a standardised way for authorities to assess travellers’ health information.

It will cover the holders’ COVID-19 vaccination status, test results, and if the traveller recently recovered from the virus.

“The Europe that we all know and that we all want back is a Europe without barriers. The EU Certificate will again enable citizens to enjoy this most tangible and cherished of EU rights – the right to free movement,” leaders said in a statement (one which would have made a great riposte to the purported UK plans to charge Europeans who wish to visit).

The EU spokespeople stress that the certificate is not a prerequisite to travel, simply a way to streamline bureaucracy and facilitate travel.

Despite these assurances, anti-vaxxers are sure to balk at what they see as a digital incursion into civil liberties and privacy, no doubt complaining vociferously on online platforms that have made a business out of giving advertisers the psychological tools to manipulate their users.

The flight path not taken

The European Parliament’s Transport Committee will meet on Wednesday (16 June) to discuss the Commission’s proposed Single European Sky reforms, among other items. The push to reform air traffic control and redraw flight paths is far from new, having been on the agenda in one form or another since the early 2000s.

The Council of the EU recently agreed its general approach to the reform and, as in the past, it wants tweaks around the edges more than an overhaul.

Airlines, who back the reforms, called the approach “conservative and nationalistic” and encouraged the European Parliament to take a different stance.

The EPP’s Marian-Jean Marinescu expressed similar sentiments, tweeting that the Council’s approach shows “they prefer the national approach to the European one”.

Read more about the Council’s position and reactions below.

A roundup of the most captivating transport news.

Airbus, Air France want EU green funds used for jet incentives

Airbus and Air France-KLM have urged policymakers to use EU-backed green stimulus funds to support aircraft sales, according to documents released on Thursday (10 June) by InfluenceMap, an investor-led climate lobbying watchdog.

EU’s air traffic reform plan draws fire from airlines

Global airlines have criticised the European Union’s recently agreed position on air traffic management reform, arguing it hampers much-needed improvements to Europe’s sclerotic air transport system.

Brussels in balancing act to gain EU support for battery regulation

The European Commission’s proposed battery regulation was alternatively branded too ambitious or too restricting at a meeting of EU environment ministers Thursday (11 June), highlighting the gap between the 27 member states on the issue.

An ETS for transport and buildings is essential

An EU-wide emissions trading system for the transport and building sectors would secure the financing of low-carbon solutions and support lower-income households and member states through the redistribution of carbon pricing revenues, argue Matthias Buck and Andreas Graf of Berlin-based think tank Agora Energiewende.

Subscribe to our newsletters