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The European Green Deal: what it means for road transport
Europe | Geneva

The European Green Deal: what it means for road transport

12 Dec 2019

The European Commission has published its Communication on the European Green Deal, setting out its future policy package to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. 

IRU General Delegate, Matthias Maedge, said: “IRU welcomes the initiative and the commitment by President Ursula von der Leyen to make the Green Deal the new growth strategy for Europe. Road transport has a key role to play.”

So what policies does the Green Deal contain and how will they contribute to tackling Europe’s ambitious decarbonisation goal? Here is an overview of the Green Deal’s key provisions and their potential future impact on both passenger and freight transport: 

The new Climate Law
Planned for release in March 2020, the Climate Law will set forth a legislative framework to guide the 2050 carbon neutrality objective. For road transport operators, this represents new opportunities to help the world on its path towards sustainable and inclusive growth, as long as the policies entail smarter road transport rather than a reduction thereof. Today, 75% of CO2 emissions stem from private passenger cars – a figure that speaks for itself when it comes to areas of action under any new climate legislation. 

Energy Taxation Directive – accelerating market uptake of low carbon fuels 
The revision of the Energy Taxation Directive has the potential to lead to a harmonisation of fuel pricing across the European Union and reduce tank tourism, while also accelerating the uptake of lower CO2 fuels through the introduction of a CO2 tax.  

Alternative fuels: a necessity to meet the sector’s growth 
The road transport sector is set to grow by 300% by 2050 in Eurasia – a demand that can only be met by a wider range of alternative fuel options, including gaseous and liquid based fuels. Moving to a zero emission circular economy, with a focus on well-to-wheel rather than tailpipe emissions, will be key. 

Modal cooperation - the importance of a level playing field 
While the EU recognises the importance of modal cooperation, IRU calls for a level playing field between the different transport modes. Rather than a shift, IRU recommends a focus on innovation to build faster, greener and more profitable interconnectivity of transport modes. To incentivise such modal cooperation, one of IRU’s recommendations is to reinvest road user charges into road transport innovation projects. 

Road transport: Europe’s lifeblood is on the right path to CO2 reduction 

In Europe, more than 50% of goods are transported by road, which generates around €500 billion annual revenue and employs over 5 million people. In the last 20 years, the road transport industry has heavily invested in innovative technologies, and in so doing, has managed to lower its emissions by up to 98%. These figures demonstrate how sustainability is the guiding principle of the sector and what road transport means for the European economy. 

“Only through cooperation will we achieve a more sustainable and prosperous future. Today, we can already pick some low hanging fruits, such as the cross-border use of high capacity vehicles and the use of collective mobility services instead of passenger cars”

While IRU remains committed to pursuing decarbonisation efforts and working towards Europe’s goals, it also underlines the importance of a global vision when it comes to carbon neutrality. 

“Only through cooperation will we achieve a more sustainable and prosperous future. Today, we can already pick some low hanging fruits, such as the cross-border use of high capacity vehicles and the use of collective mobility services instead of passenger cars”, concluded Matthias Maedge.