The European Transport Forum 2016

Reduction of CO2 emissions from transport. Where do we stand?
The European Transport Forum 2016

On 27th September 2016, top policymakers and stakeholders came together at the European Transport Forum (ETF) in Brussels for a high-level debate on the efforts to decarbonise transport across Europe. The ETF focused on trying to answer the question of where we stand in Europe on the challenge of reducing CO2 emissions from transport.

Keynote address by Miguel Arias Cañete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, European Commission

Mr Cañete reminded attendants that already 60 countries, responsible for 47,7% of CO2emissions, have ratified the 2015 Paris COP21 Agreement on Climate Change, making the EU contribution (representing 12%) critical for the entry into force of the agreement. He stated that the transition to a low carbon economy, in addition to being essential for the planet’s climate, is vital for Europe’s economic prosperity and global competitiveness.


He further emphasized that with almost a quarter of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions coming from transport, this sector has a vital role to play. Explaining the EU’s effort to reduce its emissions, Mr Cañete explained where the transport sector fits in and concluded that by mid-century, greenhouse gas emissions from transport will need to be at least 60% lower than in 1990 and be firmly on the path towards zero.


The key levers that the Commission is working to address, which Mr Cañete says will tilt the transport sector in the right direction include

1. improved efficiency of the transport system

2. increased use of low-emission alternative energy for transport

3. transition to low- and zero emission vehicles

Mr Cañete further focused on two key policy measures that he expects to deliver the majority of the emissions reductions in the transport sector:

1. The post 2020 efficiency standards for cars and vans, and

2. The EU strategy for heavy-duty vehicles.


He invited those who have not already done so to contribute to the public consultation which the Commission launched in July on the post-2020 legislation before 28 October 2016.


According to Cañete, a key aspect of the future legislative framework is to define what is a low- emissions vehicle in a technology neutral way and to create the right incentives to encourage innovation, adding that a quicker roll out of low emission infrastructures is necessary to ensure that the supply meets the demand.

He also cited an initiative under preparation by Commissioner Bulc on public procurement of low-emission vehicles and a solid implementation of the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive and insisted on intensification of research and innovation efforts, particularly in areas like energy storage for electric cars. Among other things, Mr Cañete referred to the Horizon work programme (2018-20) to accelerate the development and market uptake of low carbon technologies.


He further talked about the need to improve testing of light vehicles to restore consumer trust and mentioned the World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure, which will be implemented in September 2017, with the aim to deliver accurate and realistic CO2 and fuel consumption values.


Mr Cañete then focused on heavy trucks, saying that emissions from lorries, buses and coaches represent around 25% of road transport emissions and are set to increase by up to 10% between 2010 and 2030. “We need to measure and report CO2 emissions from heavy duty vehicles if we are serious about decarbonisation”, he said, insisting that Europe cannot lag behind.


Mr Cañete said that the European solution will not be a copy/paste of solutions previously adopted by others, but rather will be based on a comprehensive impact assessment to define the European solution which will be suitable for the European market, manufacturers and energy and climate objectives.


He then brought his attention to decarbonisation of fuels, saying that the Commission understands that industry needs a clear and stable long-term framework and therefore intends to take that into account when delivering the package on renewable and bioenergy at the end of this year.


Creating the right conditions to stimulate the low emission alternative energy for transport could be done for example through an obligation for fuel suppliers to blend renewable alternative energies to reduce the greenhouse gas impact of the energy supplied, explained Mr Cañete.


He concluded his keynote speech by saying that in 2017 the European Commission will deliver on low-emission mobility, and stated “my job is not done until everyone else’s job is done and these proposals are turned into EU law”.

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