Thursday

15th Apr 2021

EU commission wants 30 million electric cars by 2030

  • Provision of charging points differs across EU countries. The Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Sweden and France have the highest share, while Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Poland and Bulgaria have the fewest (Photo: Yadid Levy / Nordic Council)

The European Commission unveiled on Wednesday (9 December) its mobility strategy, aiming to reduce the carbon footprint of the transport sector by 90 percent by 2050.

Transport is a key environmental pressure, representing over a quarter of total greenhouse gas emissions in the EU.

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  • The question of when combustion-engine cars will be banned in Europe remains unanswered (Photo: Eurostat)

The mobility strategy, which is part of the Green Deal, gives particular attention to the electrification of road transport - as one of the biggest contributors to climate change and a significant source of air pollution in urban areas.

By 2030, the commission wants to place at least 30 million zero-emission cars and 80,000 clean-energy lorries on Europe's roads. But the number of public recharging points needed is still unclear.

In 2019, there were 194,000 electric charging points in the EU, including around 22,000 fast-charging points.

However, the number of charger points differ across EU countries. The Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Sweden and France have the highest share, while Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Poland and Bulgaria have the fewest.

Additionally, the EU executive will propose a revision of the CO2 standards for cars and vans by June 2021.

However, the commission continues to evade the question of when the last days for combustion-engine cars will be in Europe.

Earlier this year, the British government announced that new petrol and diesel vehicles will not be sold in the UK from 2030.

Even the chief of carmaker Volvo suggested this month that a ban on petrol cars would push consumers to switch to more sustainable options.

No short-haul ban

For the decarbonisation of aviation and shipping, where global emissions remain critically high, the commission will rely more on biofuels and low-carbon fuels than on e-fuels, which are generated exclusively with renewable energy, according to a working document.

However, the executive director of NGO Transport & Environment (T&E), William Todts, warned that "biofuels are not the solution," arguing that previous EU policies on biofuels have contributed to deforestation worldwide.

"We now have a great alternative in renewable hydrogen fuels which aren't just cleaner, but also represent a big industrial opportunity," he also said.

A recent T&E study revealed that Europe could increase the production of e-fuels to power all of its planes and ships by 2050.

Additionally, the EU executive will also review the kerosene tax exemption.

Ahead of the 'European Year of Rail' next year, the commission aims to double high-speed rail traffic across the EU to reduce the use of planes for short distances.

By 2030, the EU executive wants that all journeys under 500km within the bloc be carbon-neutral.

However, the proposal falls short of binding measures, such as a ban on short-haul flights.

Moreover, the commission proposal foresees a boost on collaborative mobility services (shared cars, bikes, ride-hailing, and other forms of micro-mobility) as well as on cycling, which is a priority for many cities in the EU.

Green groups criticised that billions have been already unconditionally channelled to airlines and carmakers during the first months of the pandemic, while member states are expected to continue funding aviation, car manufacturing and road construction with EU funds.

"Aspirational targets and a few new train lines or 'green' standards are not enough. It is time to ensure all transport investments fund a just transition towards climate-proof, equitable mobility for all," said Lorelei Limousin from Greenpeace.

Meanwhile, workers unions slammed the proposal, arguing that it leaves out the direct impact the pandemic has had on workers.

"The transport sector cannot continue in the same vein, slipping further down the rabbit hole of policies fuelled by low-cost models, liberalisation and competition based on a race to the bottom," the European Transport Workers' Federation said on Wednesday.

The transport sector contributes around five percent to EU GDP, employing more than 10 million people in the bloc.

MEPs give green light to road transport sector reform

MEPs adopted on Thursday the Mobility Package covering truck drivers' working conditions - rejecting amendments pushed by central and eastern member states. However, the European Commission warned that two new rules might be not align with the Green Deal.

How pandemic opens doors to green transport industry

While much of the transport sector is pushing for unconditional state aid and to postpone climate policy action, experts believe that this crisis could help to transform the EU's transportation system, making it more resilient, sustainable and flexible.

Magazine

Tackling climate change through transport

Getting the mobility package done in the short-term, and helping to change modes of transportation in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, will be key priorities for the transport and tourism committee.

Opinion

Second-hand cars flaw in EU Green Deal

The moment Europe revels in its carbon-free transport system, most of the cars that emitted too much for EU standards will still be driving around for years somewhere else in the world.

MEPs agree carbon border tax - heavy industries protected

Green groups warned that if heavy industry continues to receive free allowances even after a carbon border levy is in place, this would essentially be a double subsidy for those sectors. "The European Commission must correct this," the WWF warned.

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