EU strives for green, smart and affordable mobility

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The European Commission presented on December 9 its new strategy for smart and sustainable mobility to align the transport sector with the European Green Deal.

The Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy together with an Action Plan of 82 initiatives, which will guide the EU’s work for the next four years, lays the foundation for how the EU transport system can achieve its green and digital transformation and become more resilient to future crises. As outlined in the European Green Deal, the result will be a 90% cut in emissions by 2050, delivered by a smart, competitive, safe, accessible and affordable transport system.

“To reach our climate targets, emissions from the transport sector must get on a clear downward trend,” EU Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans said. “Today’s strategy will shift the way people and goods move across Europe and make it easy to combine different modes of transport in a single journey. We’ve set ambitious targets for the entire transport system to ensure a sustainable, smart, and resilient return from the COVID-19 crisis,” he added.

EU Transport Commissioner Adina Valean stressed that transport matters are the backbone that connects European citizens and business. “Digital technologies have the potential to revolutionise the way we move, making our mobility smarter, more efficient, and also greener. We need to provide businesses a stable framework for the green investments they will need to make over the coming decades. Through the implementation of this strategy, we will create a more efficient and resilient transport system, which is on a firm pathway to reduce emissions in line with our European Green Deal goals,” the Transport Commissioner said.

According to the Commission, all transport modes need to become more sustainable, with green alternatives widely available and the right incentives put in place to drive the transition.

By 2030 at least 30 million zero-emission cars will be in operation on European roads, 100 European cities will be climate neutral, the Commission said. Moreover, high-speed rail traffic will double across Europe, scheduled collective travel for journeys under 500 kilometres should be carbon neutral, automated mobility will be deployed at large scale and zero-emission marine vessels will be market-ready.

By 2035, zero-emission large aircraft will be market-ready, the Commission said.

By 2050, nearly all cars, vans, buses as well as new heavy-duty vehicles will be zero-emission, rail freight traffic will double, and a fully operational, multimodal Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) for sustainable and smart transport with high speed connectivity.

Transport has been one of the sectors hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, and many businesses in the sector are seeing immense operational and financial difficulties. The Commission therefore commits to reinforce the Single Market – for instance through reinforcing efforts and investments to complete the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) by 2030 and support the sector to build back better through increased investments, both public and private, in the modernisation of fleets in all modes.

The Commission also commits to make mobility fair and just for all – for instance by making the new mobility affordable and accessible in all regions and for all passengers including those with reduced mobility and making the sector more attractive for workers and step up transport safety and security across all modes – including by bringing the death toll close to zero by 2050.

Reacting ahead of the Commission’s mobility strategy, Hydrogen Europe said on December 9 that it’s an ambitious roadmap for achieving at least a 90% reduction in the transport sector emissions by 2050. It noted that the transport sector faces numerous challenges: growing traffic, rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, in particular from sectors that are hard to electrify, such as heavy-duty transport, aviation and maritime. In these sectors, hydrogen technologies have a major role to play in achieving the Green Deal objectives, Hydrogen Europe said.

“Congratulations to the European Commission for this comprehensive roadmap – all modes of transport must be decarbonised!”  Hydrogen Europe Secretary General Jorgo Chatzimarkakis said. “The vision of an ‘abundant recharging and refuelling infrastructure for zero-emission vehicles’ is music to my ears. For this to happen, we need a holistic approach, which is what the Commission has put forward. Along with support for zero-emission vehicles, infrastructure, carbon pricing, energy taxation, incentives for sustainable fuels to name a few. The hydrogen industry is ready to accelerate the pathway towards carbon-neutral mobility,” he added.

Greenpeace EU was critical of the new EU mobility strategy, stressing that it continues driving the EU into the climate crisis despite some “green” measures. Greenpeace argued that despite a Commission claim that the mobility strategy would tackle all related sources of emissions and high expectations that followed, the strategy fails to propose any game changers.

“Supporting a few green measures can never balance out letting some of Europe’s biggest emitters off the hook,” Greenpeace EU climate campaigner Lorelei Limousin said, adding, “While the European Commission pledges to boost rail and sustainable mobility, it failed once again to cut off the flow of taxpayer money to dirty industries”.

 

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