Strategy agreed on energy efficiency in transport

EU ministers agreed a strategy on energy efficiency in transport at the Energy and Transport Council meeting on 8 June.1

The strategy draws together existing measures being taken by the European Commission and sets five priorities: to improve energy efficiency in all transport modes; to increase the use of alternative and renewable fuels; to increase the use of more efficient vehicles; to design measures to shape consumer behaviour; and to promote integrated transport planning.

The Council says it is "especially important that the energy efficiency of road transport be improved" because it accounts for 84% of EU transport CO2 emissions. Although carmakers have "made efforts" to improve the efficiency of new vehicles, ministers urged the industry to "step up their efforts". But the Council warned the Commission to ensure that its plans for a mandatory target on average new car CO2 emissions announced in February (ENDS Report 385, p 51 ) should have an effect on competition "as neutral as possible".

The Council said that it "welcomes more active use of economic instruments" to encourage sales of cleaner vehicles, but it steered clear of endorsing the Commission’s draft legislation for CO2-based car taxation, which has struggled to make headway since it was proposed in 2005.

The strategy welcomes plans to develop the biofuel market, but echoes calls from others for the Commission to propose a certification scheme to ensure they are developed sustainably, following concerns about deforestation (ENDS Report 388, p 21 ). It also urges the Commission to assist demonstration projects for second-generation biofuels.

It is a matter of "great urgency" that the Commission should strengthen efforts to develop hydrogen fuel cell and electric vehicles.

On aviation, the strategy suggests that the use of alternative and renewable fuels in aircraft should be assessed.

On shipping, it welcomes the "high level of priority" given by the International Maritime Organization to addressing CO2 emissions and other air pollution. In fact, the IMO has been slow to take action (ENDS Report 387, p 24 ) and plans to control the sector’s CO2 emissions through emissions trading have been driven by the Commission (ENDS Report 386, p 53 ).

On rail, the Council says only that railway organisations should further improve energy efficiency, even though some rail operators, such as Virgin, are assessing biofuels.

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