EU letting governments off the hook over inaction on transport emissions helps no one

The European Commission on 18 June let EU governments off the hook over their failure to address emissions from Europe’s biggest climate problem, transport. The Commission’s assessment of countries’ draft national energy and climate plans gave no recommendations for each country’s transport sector. A climate ranking published last week shows that governments’ plans to cut pollution from transport will fail to meet their own 2030 emissions targets and, more importantly, the goal of decarbonising by 2050 at the latest.

Transport emissions in Europe have increased every year for the past four years and account for 27% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. Last year it was the only sector that did not reduce its climate impact.

Carlos Calvo Ambel, trends and analysis director at T&E, said: “The climate plans submitted by governments are completely inadequate and the Commission isn’t doing anyone a favour by glossing over that fact. It also fails to acknowledge that the EU itself needs to do a lot more to clean up transport, in particular by making electromobility a top industrial priority and by greening of investment and taxation. Unless something drastically changes, we will miss our 2030 climate goals by a big margin.”

The Commission also claims that countries have to meet a 14% target of renewables in the transport sector by 2030. However, the only binding target for renewables in transport is 7% for advanced fuels because if countries phase out food-based biofuels their target can be lower. Governments may see this as encouragement to use food-based biofuels despite their negative impacts on emissions, deforestation and local communities.