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15th Dec 2019

Magazine

Tackling climate change through transport

  • Chairwoman Karima Delli (Greens/EFA, France) wants climate protection to transform mobility and transport (Photo: European Parliament)

Changing (and charging for) transportation methods are key to effectively fighting climate change, and the European Parliament's transport committee chair, Karima Delli, will put that struggle at the top of the agenda.

"The issue of global warming is one of my top priorities. We are facing a big responsibility," the French politician from the Europe Ecology/The Greens party told EUobserver.

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"The transport sector accounts for 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and has an important responsibility on air pollution (600,000 deaths per year in Europe). This priority translates into objectives by mode of transport," Delli added.

She said she will defend the obligation for all regional and national trains at EU level to have at least eight reserved bicycle spaces to accelerate the pace of soft mobility.

"Cities must seize this means of transport, which is low-carbon and accessible to all,"said Delli - who describes herself as a advocate of both train and bicycle. The committee will also enter into negotiations on the text of passenger rights.

The MEP said the committee wants to boost freight by rail by 30 percent per country, launch a rail renovation plan, and "to support a real revival of night trains".

Dell adds that she is campaigning for a heavy-vehicle fee. She wants for each European country to "introduce a heavy goods vehicle tax based on the polluter-pays principle, with revenue earmarked to finance sustainable urban mobility, freight and road safety".

In terms of the aviation package, the committee will look at a kerosene tax, and all possible means to invest in alternatives to flying.

"The sector should no longer benefit from an exemption from fuel tax. Europe can implement it, and bring it to the international level with a single voice, to show that it is possible to work on this issue. This would provide significant funding for alternatives," said Delli, who has chaired the committee since 2017.

Delli also wants to hold a European summit on the "conversion of the automotive industry" in order to work on re-skilling employees, on providing support for regions, and on recycling vehicles. She said that with 12 million workers in the industry, this is an urgent issue.

Delli had also served as the vice-chair of the committee of "inquiry into emission measurements in the automotive sector", which brought in after the 2015 Dieselgate scandal.

In the maritime sector, Delli said, the committee will start to tighten up the standards for sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions.

"The objective is also to update the air quality directive to the levels recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO)," she said, adding that limits will have to be added for other particles such as PM2.5, which are not included in the current directive.

Delli expects more debate on the "complex exercise" of the EU's mobility package, a 2017 proposal for a series of legislations from making traffic safer, through fighting illicit employment to cutting red tape.

Completing the mobility package would be a success, in the short term, Delli said.

"There are a number of issues that will divide us, according to institutional, political or geographical divisions. It is essential, especially on divisive issues, to take the time, listen and consult everyone," Delli said, adding that she is determined to defend the parliament's positions in negotiations with the other institutions.

Besides the immediate legislative goal of getting the package done, the most important priority is "for greenhouse gas emissions from transport to fall".

"This is an absolute necessity if we are to meet our climate commitments and leave a liveable planet for future generations," she said.

The chairwoman is Karima Delli (Greens/EFA, France). Vice-chairs: Sven Schulze (EPP, Germany), Istvan Ujhelyi (S&D, Hungary), Jan-Chistoph Oetjen (Renew, Germany).

Coordinators: Marian-Jean Marinescu (EPP, Romania), Johan Danielsson (S&D, Sweden), Roberts Zile (ECR, Latvia), Jose Ramon Bauza Diaz (Renew, Spain), Elena Kountoura (GUE/NGL, Greece), Ciaran Cuffe (Greens/EFA, Ireland), Roman Haider (ID, Austria).

This article first appeared in EUobserver's latest magazine, Who's Who in European Parliament Committees, which you can now read in full online.

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