State of the Energy Union: Alternative fuels have essential role in tackling climate change
The EU is on the right track to attain its decarbonisation goals, but must do more to cut its road transport sector emissions, argues Samuel Maubanc.
The European Commission's recent state of the Energy Union 2015 report monitored the progress made, over the past nine months, in the implementation of the EU's Energy Union Strategy.
At the European LPG Association (AEGPL) we welcome this strategy and are pleased to see that the EU is on the right track in its decarbonisation goals.
We also agree with the European Commission's view that if the EU wants to attain its climate goals then it must significantly cut its road transport sector CO2 emissions.
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Similarly, we share the Commission’s concerns that the current approach to decarbonising road transport has not delivered the expected results. In fact, recent developments have highlighted that policies aimed at cutting CO2 have had adverse effects on urban air quality, an on EU citizens’ health.
We believe that EU policies on transport should aim at cutting air pollution as well as tackling climate change.
For this reason, we welcome the proposal on new real driving emissions testing, which will bring vehicles closer to the environmental standards that the EU needs.
However, we think that more ambitious policies and goals should be set and that the communication on the decarbonisation of road transport should look at alternative fuels as essential tools in tackling climate change and, at the same time, ensure the highest levels of protection of EU citizen’s health.
Obvious opportunities such as Autogas should play a key role in this process. In fact, Autogas, as a clean-burning fuel, whose combustion emits low CO2 and NOx and almost no particulate matter can help the EU achieve these two goals.
Additionally, Autogas already has a well-developed distribution system, with almost 31,000 filling stations already present across the EU. The existing Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) refuelling network currently serves 7.5 million LPG vehicles, and is already fit for a much larger uptake of Autogas vehicles.
We also welcome the approach the EU has so far adopted to decarbonise the residential heating sector.
We are convinced that the 'energy efficiency first' principle is the most critical piece of a winning strategy to achieve the goal of a 27 per cent (or even 30 per cent) reduction in energy consumption by 2030.
Nonetheless, we are concerned about the energy labelling review proposal, which we believe could in fact slow down the uptake of energy efficient systems. If the proposed rescaling were to cover central heating appliances, gas condensing boilers would fall in energy classes as low as E or F, effectively discouraging consumers investing in and and replacing their old and inefficient boilers.
Gas condensing boilers have the potential to cost-efficiently cut CO2 emissions in heating. However this will be seriously undermined if energy labelling gives the wrong impression that this technology is considered inefficient.
We also believe that the EU's upcoming heating and cooling strategy should take into account issues specific to rural areas such as older building stock primarily heated with high-carbon fuels.
Therefore, simple and non-disruptive measures such as switching to cleaner fuels, such as LPG, can bring about important reductions in CO2 and air pollutant emissions.
Finally, we welcome the EU focus on increasing energy security. This is vital to ensuring economic growth and to protecting EU citizens’ well-being. At AEGPL we believe that LPG can help the EU achieve a high level of energy security, as it is largely domestically produced while its imports are made via diversified and flexible supply routes.
Furthermore, future LPG supply is expected to include renewable LPG, which is close to becoming commercially viable. In fact, several projects are being developed across Europe, which will further increase LPG’s contribution to tackling climate change.
In short, we believe that the past nine months have seen steps in the right direction. Nevertheless, we urge the Commission to consider pragmatic and efficient solutions such as LPG in order to reach the ambitious targets set by the Energy Union.
We remain available to work together and to cooperate with the EU institutions to make that objective a reality.
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