Climate and energy package: 2030 framework a 'step backwards' on tackling transport emissions

The proposed climate and energy package is a 'missed opportunity' for the EU to take a leading role in furthering international climate negotiations, argues Raffaello Garofalo.

By Raffaello Garofalo

07 Jan 2014

Earlier this week, on January 22nd, the European commission released its long awaited communication on a policy framework for climate and energy from 2020 to 2030.

The document suggests a 40 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, 27 per cent use of renewable energy sources, and an indicative target for energy efficiency improvement of 25 per cent.

The EU has long committed to tackle the adverse effects climate change, while also ensuring Europe's energy security. The 2009 climate and energy package was a first ambitious step to ascertain shift in energy use and develop domestic reliance on resource.

The then – European institutions managed in addressing the major challenges for the EU with targeted national mandates and sector specific requirements.

On the contrary, the communication for the 2030 framework is a step backwards. The commission explicitly rejected national ambitions and refused any transport targets. This is a missed opportunity for Europe's leading role in further international climate negotiations.

[pullquote]Apart from neglecting the opinion by representatives of European citizens, the communication lessens the ambitions set by the European parliament in its non-legislative initiative[/pullquote].

Such a divided front could undermine the negotiating power for Europe at the forthcoming COP21 in Paris next year, with timid targets at a time where urgent measures should be decided to prevent temperatures from rising no more than 2°C.

On a regional scale, this is also a missed opportunity for Europe's security of supply. And, sadly, this is a missed opportunity to tackle increasing CO2 emissions in the most polluting sector in Europe; transport.

Transport emissions are increasingly damaging EU efforts to decarbonise its economy. While EU GHG emissions decreased by 17.36 per cent, transport emissions increased by 36 per cent compared to 1990.

Road usage itself amounts for a fifth of total CO2 transport emissions. It not only impacts on further climate change mitigation, undermining the goal to limit temperatures by 2°C, but also has tremendous health effects as diesel is classified as cancerogenic by the WHO.

Each year, Europe imports over 210 million tonnes of diesel; the share of diesel fuelled car registration has close to doubled between 1990 and 2012. If European institutions want to be faithful in their ambitions to reduce GHG and diversify their energy sources, targeted ambitions need to be strengthened.

In 2009, the EU agreed on improving the fuel quality with a six per cent GHG reduction. This target has neither been extended in the longer term, nor have its goals deepened with further GHG emissions reduction requirements.

The 10 per cent consumption of renewable energy sources in transport by 2020 have been dropped beyond this time. Does this mean that the efforts achieved by European regulations and member states, hand-in-hand with industry and investors will be cancelled post 2020?

Mandatory dedicated targets for transport are no luxury. They would not only drive GHG emissions down, with biofuels reducing GHG by up to 95 per cent, but would further ensure industrial growth, investment in research and development as well as maintain the 220,000 jobs created by our sector.

Over recent years, European biodiesel producers have invested heavily to reach the 2020 targets. Without long-term signals from the EU institutions on tackling transport's challenges, no investment in conventional and advanced biodiesel is likely to be undertaken.