By Mark Watts
Big changes ahead for transport!
Whatever type of Brexit most UK transport together with the entire transport sector in the EU27 will have to comply with the proposed EU Climate Target Plan and Law, published today. Worth reading the plan in full, which runs to (with the accompanying impact assessment) almost 400 pages, plus a new proposed 6 page Climate Law.
Buildings and transport are, alongside industry, the main energy users and source of emissions. Decarbonising both energy supply and demand is key to becoming climate neutral and can actually be achieved while enhancing the well-being of our citizens drawn from transport and housing.
Today, road transport accounts for a fifth of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions and increased its emissions by over a quarter since 1990. It may see a decrease in emissions of only around 20% between 2015 and 2030, underlining the increased focus the sector will require to achieve increased decarbonisation. All transport sectors - road, rail, aviation and waterborne transport - will have to contribute to the 55% reduction effort.
A smart combination of vehicle/vessels/aircraft efficiency improvements, fuel mix changes, greater use of sustainable transport modes and multi-modal solutions, digitalisation for smart traffic and mobility management, road pricing and other incentives can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time significantly address noise pollution and improve air quality. In addition, new sustainable mobility services and increased use of the existing urban bus and rail services can reduce emissions, congestion and pollution while improving road safety, especially in urban areas.
The upcoming Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy will set a pathway for the sector to master the twin green and digital transitions building a resilient and sustainable transport system for generations to come.
The transport sector had the lowest share of renewable energy in 2015, with only 6%. By 2030, this has to increase to around 24% through further development and deployment of electric vehicles, advanced biofuels and other renewable and low carbon fuels as part of a holistic and integrated approach. Secure access to batteries will be critical to rolling out electric vehicles, while clean hydrogen will be crucial for decarbonising heavy-duty transport and, through its derivatives, in the aviation and maritime sector. The decarbonisation of the transport fuel mix by 2050 will also be supported by greater use of rail and other sustainable transport modes such as inland waterways and short sea shipping, in particular for freight transport.
The European Commission will now start preparing detailed legislative proposals on how this target can be achieved. The Commission will review, and where necessary propose to revise, by June 2021, all relevant policy instruments to achieve the additional emission reductions.
The Climate Law Regulation, proposed by the Commission in March 2020, aims to enshrine into EU law the 2050 climate-neutrality target agreed by EU leaders in December 2019 and set the direction of travel for all EU policy. In September 2020, the Commission proposed to include the increased 2030 target in the Regulation, which is being discussed as a whole by co-legislators under the ordinary legislative procedure.
The new 2030 target will also form the basis of discussions on revising the EU’s nationally determined contribution to reducing emissions under the Paris Agreement.
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Mark Watts is Director of LP Brussels, a former two-term Member of the European Parliament. He has been advising organisations and businesses on EU transport, energy and environment policy for over fifteen years. He writes in a personal capacity.