Brussels (Brussels Morning) The European Parliament discussed the transition to greener transport networks with the Transport Commissioner Adian Valean during a parliamentary debate yesterday.
The transition for a more environmental attuned type of transport is underpinned by the new EU mobility strategy that was designed to deliver on the European Green Deal’s ambitions.
During the debate, Adina Valean highlighted the main elements of the EU’s sustainable and smart mobility strategy, which a great majority of MEPs have welcomed. Some MEPs voiced concerns yesterday about overly ambitious goals, given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and limitations of technological innovations.
“Greening mobility is a prerequisite, a license for the transport sector to grow and remain competitive in the future”, Valean declared, citing the need for a sustainable path to help survive the current crises, and then to achieve the 90% reduction in emissions the transport sector is set to achieve by 2050.
Issues raised by the MEPs included social conditions for workers, especially those in the aviation sector, adequate EU financing for new goals, ensuring that no consumer group is left behind to bear the cost of transformation, more incentives for cyclists and for the electric vehicle charging infrastructure, plus fair competition in the railway sector.
Road Union unhappy with EU’s strategy
The International Road Transport Union (IRU)’s general delegate to the EU, Raluca Maria, urged EU officials to reconsider their insistence on using the “narrow and incomplete tailpipe”, or “tank-to-wheel approach” to target action on CO2 emissions.
The IRU believes the EU’s approach is “misguided” since it only measures CO2 emissions at the vehicle tailpipe, without due consideration of the source of the energy used, unlike the well-to-wheel approach.
“The tailpipe approach contained in the new Mobility Strategy is ineffective and distorts investment decisions on reducing emissions to deal with climate change,” Maria said. “Moreover, it will destroy the coach transport sector, despite it being the greenest and most inclusive form of passenger transport”, she declared.
Green and digital mobility
The transport sector represents 5% of European GDP and employs over 10 million workers, making it a significant part of the EU economy.
Yet transport mobility has its downsides, such as 22 000 annual road fatalities, greenhouse gas emissions, air, and noise and water pollution.
When the Commission unveiled the sustainable and smart mobility strategy in December 2020, it presented a plan to transform the EU transport system in line with the green and digital transition, flagship policies s of Ursula von der Leyen’s mandate.
The mobility strategy tabled by the Commission is expected to reduce dependence on fossil fuels by replacing existing fleets with low-and zero-emission vehicles and increasing the use of renewable and low-carbon fuels.
Additionally, the EU executive hopes to succeed in increasing the use of less polluting modes and to shift a substantial part of today’s inland freight carried by road, currently 75%, to rail and inland waterways.