The European Commission unveiled proposals on Wednesday (July 20) to commit to a low-emission transport strategy across the continent.
This announcement could pave the way for EU-wide measures on low and zero-emission vehicles and alternative low-emission fuels, according to the Commission, and is a part of wider work on decarbonisation.
The Commission added that the proposals will keep the EU “competitive as the global social economic model changes” as a result of low-carbon measures set by the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Key elements of the strategy are to increase the efficiency of the transport system, speeding up the deployment of low-emission alternative energy for transport and moving towards zero-emission vehicles.
According to the Commission, local authority schemes such as incentives for low-emission alternative energies and vehicles, encouraging a shift to active travel (cycling and walking), public transport and bike or car-sharing and car-pooling, to reduce congestion and pollution will also be key measures.
Commenting on the measures, EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: “Transport accounts for a quarter of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions and is a main cause of air pollution. The transition to low-emission mobility is therefore essential to reach the EU’s ambitious climate objectives and to improve the quality of life in our cities.
“It is also an opportunity to modernise the EU’s economy and keep Europe’s industry competitive. The Strategy we adopted today presents a roadmap towards low-emission mobility and will give an impetus to that shift.”
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has welcomed the plans to explore how to further decarbonise transport across the EU.
However, the ACEA claims the proposals are too narrowly focused on new vehicle technology.
The body wants the European Commission to look at other factors such as fuels, faster fleet renewal, improving infrastructure, altering driver behaviour, and leveraging the potential of connected and automated vehicles.
CO2 reduction policy for heavy-duty vehicles should now follow the same path as passenger cars, the ACEA has also warned.
Erik Jonnaert, ACEA secretary general, said: “The automobile industry is fully committed to continue reducing CO2 emissions across all business segments, from passenger cars to trucks.
“All vehicle manufactures will continue investing in both internal combustion engines as well as the full range of alternative powertrains that meets the demands of both private and business consumers.
“As the communication rightly points out however, a wider roll-out infrastructure for alternative fuel vehicles is needed to enable a stronger market uptake of zero – or low emission vehicles by 2030.”
The UK government has itself sought to encourage the take up of ultra-low emission vehicles across the country, with the establishment of an Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) through the Department for Transport. This month the transport minister Andrew Jones announced funding worth £19 million for the adoption of LEV technology in the freight industry (see airqualitynews.com story).