Limbering up for Fit for 55

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

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For those in the orbit of the EU institutions – lobbyists, journalists, policy wonks, activists – the suspense is almost unbearable.

Wednesday (14 July) will see the European Commission unveil the so-called “Fit for 55” package: more than a dozen pieces of legislation that aim to ensure the bloc reduces emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

The content of the laws will have a major impact on the transport sector, a field the EU has struggled to decarbonise.

Virtually every industry with a link to mobility will be subject to new standards and requirements: vehicle manufacturers, fuel producers, airlines, train companies… Each industry will be pouring over the documents to determine just what it means for their business (and to see just how successful their lobbying has been).

For those whose livelihood depends on moving people and/or cargo from A to B, key legislation includes the revision to CO2 emission performance standards for cars and vans, new fuel regulations for the aviation and maritime sectors, and the review of the EU’s carbon market, the Emissions Trading System, which is expected to be expanded to include road transport and buildings.

New rules on the deployment of infrastructure for alternative fuels, such as e-vehicle charging stations, and the update of the renewable energy directive, which will outline targets for the share of renewable energy in transport, are also sure to be of interest.

Given the myriad new rules and regulations, not to mention the mind-bending jargon that accompanies each one, EURACTIV has put together a helpful guide to the legislation set to be released tomorrow.

If you’re struggling to tell your ETS from your ESR, or your RED II from your FQD, read the full article at the link below to get up to speed.


Car companies unite (to rig the system)

2015’s “Dieselgate” proved two things – that English-language media will add the suffix “gate” to anything even approximating a scandal, and that car companies will go to great lengths to cheat emissions limits.

Six years later and the latter is proved yet again, a fact that will shock only the most naïve.

The European Commission announced that it will fine major German car companies, including Volkswagen and BMW, a total of €875 million for anti-competitive activities.

The car manufacturers essentially engaged in cartel-like behaviour by informally agreeing not to go beyond the minimum emissions standards required by law through limiting the introduction of “AdBlue” or urea to diesel engine exhaust gases.

“Today’s case is about how legitimate cooperation has gone wrong. Carmakers had developed a very good technology, but decided not to compete to exploit it to its full potential,” EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager told reporters.

However, it could all be a moot point soon – Volkswagen has already announced its intention to phase out internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in Europe by 2035 and several EU countries have issued blanket bans on the sale of ICE cars after 2030.

But the scandal is yet another reputational blow to the German car industry, one that will undoubtedly foster greater cynicism towards any green principles espoused by the companies involved going forward.

For more details, click on the link below.


Cyclists love trains. Do trains love them back?

Those who regularly combine transport modes in the same journey (that’s known as “multimodality” in EU jargon) were likely heartened last year to see the passing of a law obliging rail companies to provide space for a minimum of four bicycles per train.

This year, the European Cyclists’ Federation have released a report which examines just how bike-friendly Europe’s rail companies are at present (despite being agreed in 2020, the bicycle space requirements won’t come into force until June 2025).

A total of 69 railway companies and services were given a percentage score based on bicycle carriage policies.

Intercity Berlin, a train service operated by the Netherland’s NS International and Germany’s Deutsche Bahn, connecting Amsterdam and Berlin, was number one in the ranking with 82%. Several international trains received a 0% score, including Eurostar, Deutsche Bahn’s ICE international, and SNCF & SNCB’s Thalys.

The report found that despite recent progress, it’s still much too difficult for passengers to combine bike and train travel. ECF are urging policymakers and train companies to make it easier.


Richard Branson blasts into space (just about)

For those interested in the PR stunts/vanity projects of billionaires, this was an exciting weekend.

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson soared 88 kilometres above the Earth’s surface on Sunday (11 July), paving the way for other rich pseudo-astronauts to take leisure trips slightly above the atmosphere.

There’s some controversy though, as the world’s richest man and rival would-be space lord, Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, claimed that Branson didn’t actually pass the Kármán line – the threshold from which space starts. Bezos will soon mount his own space journey via his rocket company Blue Origin.

Virgin Galactic says commercial operations will begin in 2022 and tickets will cost $250,000. It’s a milestone in space travel, at least for people with a quarter of a million dollars to spare who want to play astronaut.

EURACTIV’s media partner The Guardian has more details.


A roundup of the most captivating transport news.

Europe’s ‘Fit for 55’ climate package: What to expect

The European Commission will table a package of energy and climate laws on Wednesday (14 July) aimed at reaching the EU’s 2030 goal of cutting emissions by 55%, and putting it on track to hit net zero by 2050. EURACTIV gives you the lowdown on the plan.

EU slaps Volkswagen, BMW with antitrust fines

The EU’s antitrust authority fined German auto giants Volkswagen and BMW €875 million on Thursday (8 July) for colluding on the development of anti-pollution technology for diesel cars.

A majority of Europeans favour a tax on jet fuel

A recent survey suggests that Europeans believe airlines should be required to pay tax on aviation fuel. The European Commission should heed the public and not the aviation lobby, writes Ciarán Cuffe, an Irish Member of the European Parliament affiliated with the Greens/EFA group.

Advanced biofuels feedstock list should be enlarged to meet EU target: industry

The list of EU-approved sustainable fuel sources should be expanded to meet the higher targets for second-generation biofuels under the updated renewable energy directive, according to the advanced biofuels industry.

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