Decarbonising transport: What’s the Commission’s strategy all about?

If you ever find yourself in a room filled with people working on European transport policy, the moment you mention “decarbonisation” heads will turn in curiosity (or despair). We bet this is what happened during the two-day informal council meeting in Amsterdam over the past two days!

Decarbonisation of Transport

Since the 2030 Climate and Energy Package and COP21, everyone has been talking about “decarbonisation of transport” yet no one really knows what the Commission has in its mind in order to solve this complex puzzle. Any action to reduce CO2 emissions from transport could impact everyone, from public transport users to freight operators.

Last week, the Commission shed some light on the strategy with the publication of its long-awaited Roadmap on decarbonising the transport sector. As expected the initiative (which is due to be agreed upon in College at the end of June) will not include legislation, but will provide the framework for a number of other initiatives that advance the transition towards carbon-free or less carbon intensive fuels, improving vehicle efficiency, and managing transport demand.  

The publication of the roadmap was preceded by rumors that the Commission was focusing on electrification, especially considering the long and complex discussions on the sustainability of biofuels and the rather weak agreement in favor of alternative fuels a couple of years ago. While the roadmap does not necessarily reflect this strong push on electrification, a study on third countries policies by the Joint Research Centre discusses in depth the many options including electrification.

Realistically, the approach showed in the roadmap is the most promising one to achieve results as it focuses on the idea that reducing emissions from transport requires coordinated action on several fronts:

  • CO2 emissions from cars and vans
  • Monitoring emissions from heavy duty vehicles
  • Action plan for the deployment of electrification and advanced biofuels
  • Revision of the Eurovignette Directive and electronic tolling
  • Decision on Effort Sharing for non-ETS sectors
  • Initiatives on intelligent transport
  • Urban mobility initiatives
  • Rules for market access for the haulage market

Daunting list, right?! Whether you are a vehicle manufacturer or provide components for vehicles, or even if you work in the electricity generation sector or are a fuel supplier, we would recommend that you:

  • Look out – many initiatives will be coming your way in the next months and the time to engage is now
  • Brush up your stats – whilst the Commission will not be conducting a public consultation on the Communication, some of its element will require engagement from stakeholders, with concrete data on business impacts preferred.
  • Meet with key decision makers – technology neutrality is still the rule, so if you expect to see something specific about your sector this is not going to happen. If you want to stick out, act now.

Ilektra Tsakalidou, Laura Rozzo, and Michael Stanton-Geddes

  • Laura Rozzo

    Laura Rozzo is a member of the environment and transport practice group from 2013, working mainly on transport and energy issues. Laura manages a wide range of clients from small companies to large manufacturing enterprises as well as trade associations. She previously gained experience at...

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