The European Commission’s “Fit for 55” package missed a major opportunity to propose a radical transformational shift to reduce road transport emissions.
On Wednesday, The European Commission approved a broad set of legislative proposals (called ‘Fit for 55’ or European Green Deal).
It is a set of measures aimed at reducing the carbon emissions by 55% by 2030 and by 0% by 2050.
Mobility by Cycling Friendly welcomes the EU’s political commitment focused on urgent CO2 emission reduction, given the growing urgency of the climate crisis.
It will be a rather difficult ambitious challenge if there is no greater commitment to the cycling across the European continent.
According to the European Commission’s own analysis, transport makes up nearly a quarter of Europe’s CO2 emissions and is the main cause of air pollution in cities. It is the only sector where emissions have not decreased. Road transport is the worst culprit, accounting for more than 70% of greenhouse gas emissions.
The Commission concludes that “greenhouse gas emissions from transport should be at least 60% lower than in 1990 and firmely trend towards zero”.
The proposals include to completely phase out the sale of new polluting engine vehicles and hybrids by 2035. In addition to taxing energy taxes on petrol and diesel to discourage their use. Also include transport in the emissions trading system and focus on the development of e-cars.
Electrifiying motorized transport should be part of the plan to decarbonize the transport sector. But there is a serious hitch in this plan; the existing technology to electrify motor vehicles and recharge e-car batteries for widespread use will not happen fast enough to achieve the significant effect needed.
The technology for rapidly recucing road transport emissions in urban daily commuting already exists. It has been around for over 200 years. It is vastly more economically, energy efficient and emission-free. Thebicycle.
The EU’s European Green Deal was a great opportunity to propose a more radical transformational shift. But it has basically focused too much on electrifying vehicles at the expense of more quickly boosting and realizing the potential of cycling.
The modal share of cycling can nevertheless be effectively expanded at a lower cost than electrifying vehicles and creating the entire recharging infrastructure.
The environmental and climate benefits of cycling are obvious but bear repeating.
The ECF study reveals that cycling already saves more than 16 million tons of CO2-equivalent emissions per year in the EU and reduces air pollution.
In 2018, the European Environment Agency reported that the economic value of reduced air pollution through cycling is €435 million.
Then there are also the savings in fuel: even the present levels of cycling in the EU equates a fuel savings of over 3 billion liters per year.
A 2016 ECF reportconcluded that the full impact of producing bicycles releases about 21 grams of CO2 per passenger km travelled, compared with 271 grams of CO2 for passenger cars.
Finally, there is the undeniable savings on emissions: from 33 to 72 million tons of CO2 if cycling levels were to triple in Europe.
Just as important, cycling delivers a wide range of other benefits:
The bottom line is: if we truly hope to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55 % by 2030, and by extension, road transport emissions, which make up the vast chunk, we have no other choice than to significantly scale up cycling, in addition to plans to electrify motor-vehicle transport.