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Clean transport: EU’s new battle

After the proposals for the creation of a European Climate Bank by climate scientist Jean Jouzel and Belgian MEP Bart Staes, the ecological transition is more than ever at the heart of national, European and global concerns. The European Union has seized the problem and is aiming for a drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in the transport sector.

According to a 2016 study of the International Energy Agency, the transport sector accounted for 24.4% of emissions and was, therefore, the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases after energy and electricity.

The “Connecting Europe Facility” Programme: the pillar of European transport policy

The “transport” component of the CEF programme finances new or existing transport infrastructure works in Europe. Thanks to this, several projects have been financed, including the “Seven Europe Network” project, led by the Montpellier company Seven Occitanie, for €4.4 million. With the objective of opening 13 bioGNV stations, this project is one of the only French projects to have obtained a grant for this call. A new call for proposals under this programme should be launched in 2019 and there are other programmes available: the Cohesion Fund, the ERDF, the European fund for strategic investments, and Horizon 2020.

The culprits of air pollution, that is, transports, are too numerous to continue using harmful fuels. In the European Union, there are more than 250 million passenger cars. About 5% of them are equipped with powertrains or use alternative fuels. New initiatives should be found to change the situation.

Greenhouse gases and air quality: the European Union’s growing concern

The EU encourages innovation to reduce excessive emissions of harmful gases, in line with the objectives of COP21. Indeed, the European Commission has launched a prize for the cleanest engine of the future, as part of the Horizon 2020 programme, with a budget of €3.5 million. Opened since 2016, applications will close on August 20, 2019.

As part of this award, candidates will be required to limit emissions of NOx (nitrogen oxides), harmful particulate and other pollutants to the lowest possible level, under real driving conditions on the road and in the laboratory. They will have to ensure the good performance, safety and acceptable cost of the engine, but also improve fuel efficiency, noise level, and vehicle emissions.

According to a study published in the European Heart Journal, air pollution is the cause of 8.8 million deaths per year or 16% of all deaths worldwide. It is therefore urgent to act since this figure is increasing every year. Indeed, in 2016, the death toll was already 6.5 million.

Although the European elections on 26 May 2019 will certainly mark a decisive turning point either towards stronger environmental protection or towards reduced efforts, the strategies adopted by the Union impose binding targets to be achieved by 2030.

Fanny Robert


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