OPP Meeting Summary: EP TRAN Committee – Presentation by the Policy Department of the study on Decarbonisation of EU transport (11 October 2017)

A summary of the Policy Department’s presentation on decarbonisation of EU transport is now available.

EP TRAN Committee Meeting – 11 October 2017
9. Presentation by the Policy Department of the study on Decarbonisation of EU transport

The Representative from the Commission, Anco Hoen, made the following opening remarks

  • past performance of greenhouse gas emissions and future targets in transport:
    • general increase of emissions until and a decline during the financial crisis caused by a reduction in demand;
    • general increase in emissions after 2014;
    • passenger cars had the biggest amount of emissions in the transport sector with 44% of total emissions;
    • together 5 modes accounted for 95% of emissions: cars, heavy-duty vehicles, international maritime, international aviation and light-duty vehicles;
    • emissions in each sub-sector peaked before the financial crisis but the increase in emissions from cars could be associated with an increase in demand;
    • for aviation the emission level was already above the 2007 level since it had been less effected by the financial crisis;
    • the existing policies and plans had not delivered sufficiently on emission reductions;
    • the Commission had delivered a long-term reference scenario on the basis of the existing measures which currently would lead to a 50% above 1990 levels by 2050;
    • consequently, there was still a “long way to go in transport”;
  • presented policies and implications for long-term targets:
    • vehicle efficiency
      • highlighted the passenger cars and the light-duty vehicles regulations as the main initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases;
      • although the EU was on the right course, in order to reach the Paris Agreement goal of a 1,5 degree reduction, the EU targets might need to be lower;
      • furthermore, current issues with regards to the test cycles had revealed that the reductions had not been achieved under real world conditions which is why the Commission was currently revising the test cycle;
      • the Commission was currently identifying post-2020 targets for cars and vans which needed to be cost-effective and in line with the long-term CO2-reduction needs;
      • recommendations:
        • suggested to have a zero-emission mandate following the Californian example to drive the development of electric and hydrogen vehicles;
        • moreover needed was a framework to set up real world driving emissions;
        • the Commission was currently developing the same for heavy-duty vehicles which had to be strengthened in the same way as the car regulations;
    • decarbonisation of transport fuel and energy sources
      • mainly the renewable energy directive led to the biofuels uptake, however, the extend of the achieved emission reductions was less clear due to different greenhouse gas reductions of the different feed stocks and land use changes;
      • most biofuels performed better from a greenhouse gas emission perspective than fossil fuels, however, when taking account of the indirect emissions the results often changed;
      • recommendations:
        • a robust and stable, long-term policy framework was needed to deliver growth in renewable energy use in transport;
        • the supply of sustainable biofuels was likely to be limited, so policies required to develop other energy sources and ensure their usage;
        • renewable transport fuels policies needed to be assessed and developed with those of other sectors that would also demand more sustainable biomass;
    • efficiency of the transport sector
      • the EU only had limited competences in this area, but the EU framework provided guidance and support for sustainable urban mobility plans, for example the framework for road user charging, fuel taxes and ITS;
      • current challenges were conflicting views on the efficiency of a modal shift for GHG reductions, increased infrastructure was likely to increase emissions and user charging and speed policies were often controversial;
      • recommendations:
        • support Member States in implementing the measures;
        • make infrastructure planning  part of the GHG emissions policy;
        • and increase tax rates;
    • international maritime and aviation policies
      • the idea had been that ICAO and CORSA delivered fewer emission reductions than including all flights in the EU ETS but then the scope was reduced to to several legal challenges from third countries;
      • the progress under IMO had been slow
  • in order to achieve the 60% emission reduction target a lot of work still had to be done in improving vehicle efficiency, developing low carbon fuels and in improving the efficiency of the transport sector as a whole;
  • General recommendations:
    • Continue to strengthen the existing range of policies;
    • focus on early action to reduce the cumulative GHG emissions;
    • broad support was needed as the costs of transport were likely to increase.

Henna Virkkunen (EPP, FI)

  • a lot could be done to improve the current bad results and efforts had to be increased in the three mentioned areas;
  • technological and digital innovations played a big role;
  • a clear message for the MEPs had been that while working on the clean energy package to also develop a long-term policy framework for investments in the transport sector and on a sustainable way of producing biofuels;
  • the decarbonisation of the road transport sector was one of the main challenges but the aviation and maritime sector should not be forgotten, although they were more difficult since international agreements were needed;

Massimiliano Sailini (EPP, IT)

  • agreed to Henna Virkkunnen’s statement and added that a political decision was needed on how to achieve these goals while at the same time taking into account that the EU was already the most ambitious global actor in reducing CO2 emissions and was doing extremely well thanks to its system balancing between all sectors and should continue to do so;
  • the move from first to second generation biofuels was one of the strong points of the EU strategy and investors should not be discouraged from investing;
  • consequently, excessively binding targets should be avoided in order to ensure sufficient investment returns and research;

Christine Revault D’Allonnes Bonnefoy (S&D, FR)

  • highlighted the responsibility to act in line with the Paris Agreement which had to respected in the coming vote on the renewable energy directive the following day;
  • being able to involve Member States trough binding targets was an opportunity to achieve the decarbonisation goals in the transport sector.

Pavel Telička (ALDE, CZ)

  • called for a return to the debate on the presented study after having conducted an impact assessment of the effects of the recommendations on the different transport sectors;
  • appealed to the present MEPs to always take the implications of proposed measures into account in order to avoid mistakes made in the past.

Jakop Dalunde (Greens/EFA, SE) 

  • asked about the potential impacts of a merely slow societal transformation and resulting rapid changes that then had to be made later on in order to achieve the emission reduction targets;
  • asked how much technological innovation could happen in the future and if were there enough financial incentives for clean vehicle development or were other measures needed.

Werner Kuhn (EPP, DE) 

  • praised the measures undertaken in order to achieve the 2020 strategy targets for transport and asked if the progress was “eaten up” by required economic growth and demand for vehicles.

Sean Kelly (EPP, IE)

  • the message was clear: not enough progress had been achieved;
  • proposed a limit of the production of internal combustion engines to decrease the number over a period of time in order to promote electric vehicles.

Chair Karima Delli (Greens/EFA)

  • pointed out that with around 33 million cars currently not respecting the emission rules and since there were no “clean” electric vehicles, the current targets could not be achieved and asked what could be done;
  • asked how when other sectors managed to reduce their GHG emissions, the transport sector had not achieved this;
  • asked if there were any projections in terms of retro-/refitting of vehicles.

The Representative from the Commission, Anco Hoen, made the following closing remarks

  • vehicles not respecting the standards had shown that in order to move away from internal combustion engines, electric vehicles were essential;
  • because of the growth in mobility the cost of CO2 reduction had to be considered and these would be painful for certain industries and sectors in order to achieve the Paris Agreement goals;
  • 20% of the road transport emissions were produced by heavy-duty vehicles;
  • it was necessary to introduce a zero-emission mandate in order to induce manufacturers to move towards electric and hydrogen vehicles;
  • in order to achieve the Paris Agreement, action had to be taken as soon as possible “waiting was not an option”.

Source: One Policy Place

The simultaneous interpretation of debates provided by the European Parliament serves only to facilitate communication amongst the participants in the meeting. It does not constitute an authentic record of proceedings. One Policy Place uses these translations so this text is only a guide and should not be relied on as an official account of the meeting. Only the original speech or the revised written translation of that speech is authentic.

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