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EU governments announce “green deal” for transport in Europe

‘Graz Declaration’ could be a turning point for air quality and transport in Europe

 

Ministers promise a “transformation” of European mobility

 

More money for cycling, walking and safer streets

 

EU environment and transport ministers, meeting in Graz, Austria, have issued a statement declaring a “green deal” for the future of transport in Europe.

Governments have promised to deliver a rapid transformation of European mobility, with new and reallocated funding, and new laws to support the changes.

Green groups welcome the commitment to building cities where moving around on foot or by bike is safe, and where vulnerable road-users are protected. However, the statement omits any reference to crucial emissions standards for CO2 from cars and vans up to 2030.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is Europe’s largest network of environmental organisations, with around 140 members in over 30 countries.

Ministers have made a bold statement about the need for a “new era” of “clean, safe and affordable mobility for Europe”. The declaration sets out how EU countries will work towards a climate-ready future for transport in Europe.

It includes:

  • A promise to accelerate the introduction of low- and zero-emission vehicles, including the development of charging infrastructure
  • A comprehensive EU strategy for sustainable transport with new laws ready by 2021
  • The inclusion of the health benefits of active mobility in cost-benefit analyses for projects funded by the TEN-T connecting Europe fund.
  • A commitment to “active” and “safe and inclusive” mobility, acknowledging “human-powered mobility” as an equal mode of transport
  • A call for European funding for the “development and implementation of plans, programmes and projects” on active mobility
  • A strengthening and extension of ‘European Mobility Week’ – which led to the popular ‘Car Free Sunday’ initiative in Belgium

The declaration accepts that transportation must be transformed in order for Europe to meet its commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement. This transformation will also make cities cleaner, safer and more pleasant places to live.

However, an elephant in the room is emission standards for CO2 from cars and vans up to 2030. While governments will call for a further development of “emission regulations for road vehicles beyond 2030” they omit any reference to the standards that will be required before that date.

A European Environment Agency report released yesterday revealed shocking figures about the numbers of EU citizens breathing air that harms their health.

The European Commission has run out of patience with the speed at which a number of governments are tackling air pollution. Earlier this year six governments, including Germany, the UK, France and Italy were sent to Europe’s top court for their failure to tackle toxic air pollution in their cities.

Transforming Europe’s transport should just be the beginning of a green deal for Europe. Cutting air pollution from other sources, such as heating and agriculture, must also be prioritised. The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) proposal, now under discussion, is the perfect chance for governments to take action.

Margherita Tolotto, EEB Clean Air Policy Officer said:

“Ministers are making an important statement of intent about the ‘green deal’ Europe needs to transform the way we get around. People across Europe want to live in clean, safe and liveable cities and this means fundamentally addressing our transport requirements. Active mobility brings significant benefits to our health and the air we breathe, and it reduces CO2 emissions. It’s great that ministers are recognising this.

While zero-emissions mobility is a priority, a traffic jam of zero-emissions cars is still a traffic jam and speeding vehicles can still pose a threat to vulnerable road users. That’s why it’s so important to think not just in terms of cutting emissions from vehicles, but also about how we can rebuild cities so they’re better places to live.

Ultimately, the EU needs a ‘green deal’ that goes beyond transport and helps us tackle air pollution from other sources, like industry and agriculture, as well as helping to tackle the other major environmental issues of our time.”

ENDS

 

Read more: 

Meeting of environment and transport ministers was dedicated to sustainable mobility, Austrian Presidency Press Release, 30 October 2018.

The ‘Graz Declaration’, 30 October 2018.

For more information:

Anton Lazarus - Communications Officer

anton.lazarus@eeb.org

+32 2 274 10 87