NewClimate Institute: EU can foster decarbonisation in the transport sector

Germany-based NewClimate Institute says ‘adapting, upscaling and expanding EU policies would bring the transport sector in line with a greenhouse gas emissions pathway compatible with the Paris Agreement, including a -65% emission reduction target by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.’

The non-profit research organisation for climate policy says the transport sector should not impede current discussions within the EU about setting adequate levels for an updated 2030 target in line with a long-term trajectory for climate-neutrality by 2050.

‘Regardless of the EU target to be agreed on, immediate and ambitious climate action is needed in the transport sector,’ NewClimate Institute said, noting that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector accounted for 27% of European emissions.’

The not for profit group highlighted that transport ‘is the only EU sector that has seen an increase in emissions since 1990’ and as other sectors decarbonise, ‘the transport sector gains an increasingly larger share of overall emissions’.

NewClimate Institute said: ‘In line with Paris Agreement goals, European policies should ensure that emissions in the transport sector peak immediately, steeply decline towards 2030 and reach zero emissions latest by 2050.’

NewClimate Institute claims that, along with French not for profit CLIMACT, it has shown how the EU transport sector can significantly increase its ambition levels, to the point where ‘full decarbonisation of the sector by 2040 becomes possible’.

Irrespective of when the EU achieves decarbonisation, the analysis, NewClimate Institute argues, identified clear policy steps that can be taken at the EU and member state level, inspired by existing innovative and ambitious policies.

Among the concrete policy recommendations include reconsidering the European infrastructure pipeline, for example through the European Investment Bank (EIB) transport lending policy, soon to be revised. The EIB, NewClimate Institute argues, could shift finance flows and strategically scale up mobilisation of finance to decarbonise the transport sector for example in fostering research, development, and implementation of decarbonisation solutions for the shipping sector, such as green ports.

NewClimate Institute is also calling for European green port fees and/or similar schemes such as green berth allocation policies, green procurement and carbon pricing schemes as well as a strengthened EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) with more stringent caps and including extra-European flights and shipping.

There were also policy recommendations for accelerating the shift towards zero emission synthetic fuels. These included EU and member state level research and development (R&D) of zero emission synthetic fuels for the aviation or shipping sector including supporting prototype projects (such as public-private partnerships), as well as European support for the uptake of alternative synthetic fuels, requiring ports and airports to develop the required infrastructure and continue to engage with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to implement more stringent measures at the global scale.

‘These measures could include emissions standards, energy efficiency standards, and a global emissions levy,’ NewClimate Institute noted.

It also recommended an amended EU Renewable Energy Directive to require fuel suppliers to supply alternative synthetic fuels to the aviation and maritime transport sector, ‘instead of boosting the supply of potentially unsustainable biofuels’.

Summarising, NewClimate Institute said: ‘Transforming the transport sector on a path to zero emission by 2050 with a steep decline by 2030 (e.g. -65% from 1990 levels) will require immediate and strong policy action on all fronts, involving all stakeholders. The EU can play a key role in rethinking its infrastructure pipeline, enabling coordinated cross-border travel routes and accruing EU coordination in sectoral transformation.

‘Ambitious action to avoid and shift current (motorised) transport demand will alleviate the pressure on technological solutions such as sustainable batteries, renewable synthetic fuels and the large-scale expansion of renewables.’

Rhys Berry

Rhys Berry