EU's cities and regions say wide-ranging changes are needed if emissions in
a critically important sector of the economy are finally to fall.
European Commission plans intended to reduce Europe's stubbornly high
use of climate-changing fuels in its transport system are neither clear
enough nor ambitious enough, the European Committee of the Regions
argues in a set of recommendations adopted on 5 July.
The EU's assembly for local and regional politicians adopted its report on
Miguel Arias Cañete
, the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, used a keynote
speech at a
CoR plenary session
to outline the EU's new ambitions for climate action, which include recent
agreements to ensure that, by 2030, 32% of the energy used in the EU comes
from renewable energy and to increase energy efficiency by 32.5% (against a
1990 benchmark). The CoR has long argued that the EU is far too lacking in
ambition – its wants emissions cut by 50% by 2030, compared with the EU's
recently raised target of 40% – and has promoted the development of an EU
urban agenda with clean transport as a central issue.
"Transport is the one area where the EU has made no progress in reducing
(NL/ALDE), member of the executive council of the Province of Gelderland
and rapporteur for the opinion on '
delivering on low-emission mobility
'. "Transport accounts for almost a fifth of Europe's climate-changing
emissions, yet it is the only sector whose emissions have not fallen since
1990. This is intolerable as well as unsustainable; public concern about
pollution is rising, and radical changes are needed fast. So I am more
concerned with how we can scale up the market for clean transport
technologies rapidly and with the quality of the EU's legislative proposals
than its headline targets."
The EU's aim is to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from transport by at
least 60% by 2050, compared with 1990.
Mr Scheffer commented: "Recent proposals from the Commission on alternative
fuels and clean vehicles as part of the '
clean mobility package
' have to change the status quo dramatically. The Commission's strategic
thinking, its commitment and its guidance are good, but it lacks the
ambition needed to tackle emissions from private transport and there are
many details in the proposals that fail to empower cities and regions in
their battle to provide green transport. Local transport is an area where
much of the responsibility lies with municipal and regional politicians, so
it is crucially important that the Commission responds to these proposals.
But we also need a single market. For example, lorries that run on
alternative fuels need to be able to re-fuel en route from the Netherlands
to Romania. That type of cross-border inter-operability requires a European
single market and European action. Good re-fuelling options will help
establish a large market for green transport, and the resulting economies
of scale will, in turn, lower costs for local and regional governments."
continued: "We share common aims – cleaner air, and cleaner seas, smoother
traffic, and a well-balanced set of cycling, road, rail and shipping
options for citizens and businesses. We also have a good base and important
competitive advantages: Europe is also a world leader in transport
innovation, digitisation and decarbonisation of the economy. What we need
now is the critical mass to develop a thriving market for green transport.
An integrated approach is good policy and good politics."
The CoR's recommendations offer a vision of transport system that
integrates public and private services and whose impact on the climate is
considered from the point of manufacture to the point of recycling. More so
than in current Commission proposals, the CoR's recommendations promote
regulatory criteria that would reflect quality, safety, social inclusion,
and the diversity of regional conditions, rather than purely economically
Further liberalisation of bus markets was a particular issue, with groups
within the CoR warning that the Commission proposals risked the economic
equilibrium of public-transport service contracts. This could be at the
expense of public transport operators. Services of general economic
interest, such as public transport in cities and regions, are closely
linked to the EU's principle of subsidiarity, the principle that decisions
should be taken at the level that is both the most effective and closest to
The concerns of particular regions were reflected, notably with support for
amendments made by politicians from outlying regions and with compromises
struck with politicians from Scandinavia who argued that greater
consideration should be given to biofuels.
The challenge of accelerating the emergence of a green-transport market was
evident in discussions about whether more public funding is needed achieve
the transition to clean transport. Representatives of a range of cities and
regions raised concerns that the European Commission's plans are too
optimistic about private funding, despite the swelling private investment
in clean fuels. The opinion argues that, overall, the EU needs to increase
funding for local authorities that are 'early adopters' of clean
Mr Scheffer last year authored proposals intended to fill in
missing transport links in border regions
, and he will later this year set out ideas to improve trans-European
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