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Philippa talks about working with Transport & Environment and her role as Vice President

28th September 2015

Transport & Environment (T&E) celebrated its 25th Birthday earlier this year as a founding member, we at Campaign for Better transport look at what T&E was set up to do and what's ahead for the organisation.

Transport & Environment is an umbrella organisation which represents around 50 organisations across Europe, mostly environmental groups and campaigners working for sustainable transport policies at EU, national, regional and local levels. This model works well because T&E understands Brussels processes, so it can lobby effectively within the EU, as well as guiding its members through all the complicated processes involved at that level of European governance. In turn, the members can then lobby their own Government Ministers and officials which would harder for T&E to do as it does not have the local mandate.

In essence, T&E adds value through the sharing of knowledge, ideas and networks. Its mission is to promote, at EU and global level, a transport policy based on the principles of sustainable development.

Recently it has contributed to a number of high-profile EU policy changes such as binding standards for more fuel efficient cars and vans and more sustainable biofuels; introduction of green tyre labels, and smarter EU rules on the way lorries can be charged and designed in which I was personally involved.

Currently, it is intimately involved in the worldwide campaign to expose the rigging of car emissions testing. Its latest report shows that new cars, including the Mercedes A, C and E class, BMW 5 series and Peugeot 308, are now swallowing around 50% more fuel than their lab test results, based on new on-the-road results. The gap between official and real-world performance has increased to 40% on average in 2014 and is so wide in many car models that it cannot be explained through known factors including test manipulations. While this does not constitute proof of ‘defeat devices’ being used to fiddle fuel economy tests, similar to that used by Volkswagen, EU governments must extend probes into defeat devices to CO2 tests and petrol cars too.

Mind the Gap (graphic)

Campaign for Better Transport’s view is that these revelations show that car makers have been systematically misleading motorists and the wider community, but they also raise searching questions for the Government. If we're serious about tackling air pollution and climate change, we need to break the cycle of ever more roads and cars. We need better vehicle testing but also major investment in greener vehicles and high quality public transport.

From my side, I am proud to be associated with such a professional organisation and I have been on its board since April 2012 and joint Vice President since June 2014 bringing to the table both my campaigning and private sector marketing and communications experience.

I first started working with Transport and Environment in 2007, opposing mega trucks and I have worked together on this file since. It remains a highly controversial polarised subject which is not going away so I now chair an informal coalition of European organisations campaigning together to contain the spread of mega trucks which are bad for the economy, safety and the environment.

Currently I am working with T&E on the campaign to get standards and testing for trucks, something we should have had years ago. The UK is a perfect example of why truck limits are needed just like cars and vans; overall CO2 emissions from new cars sold in 2014 were 123.4g/km, a reduction of 2.6%. In the UK, transport has to improve its act as all other sector reduced emissions in 2014 while transport’s share grew by 1.1%, which means that, transport's share of total CO2 emissions went up from 25-28%. And of that, HGVs contribution to transport CO2 emissions increased from around 20 to 22% even though it only makes up 1.5% of road vehicles.

So setting truck standards is a no-brainer as it will reduce operator costs as well as protecting the planet. It would also be politically easier for our Government than either increasing fuel duty or introducing distance-based lorry charging. Pressure is also building on the EU to act on lorry fuel efficiency standards since the US authorities announced new targets for truck CO2 reductions. 

Fundamentally, the HGV sector needs to make a contribution to meeting the 2050 target for an 80% reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions based on 1990 levels set out in the 2008 climate Change Act.

The fuel efficiency of new HGVs has not improved significantly in recent years. Furthermore, in the past there had been little progress in developing EU CO2 regulation for HGVs, without which further efficiency improvements are at risk. T&E estimate that lorries could be at least 35% more fuel efficient using existing technology without increasing operating costs for hauliers if a robust and transparent system for certifying truck CO2 emissions is introduced.

And there is a way forward as the European Commission is finalising its CO2 truck test procedure, VECTO, which we believe must be opened up to truck users. This is despite opposition for this transparency from truck manufacturers, who are currently being investigated by the Commission for cartel behaviour on pricing.  The Government recognises the role of standards and testing so we are urging it to work with its European partners to make sure standards and testing, available to third parties, get EU support next year when the legislation comes up for decision. Last week’s revelations show that Governments need to act now to restore public faith in the motor industry emissions standards testing in order to reduce air pollution, climate change and fuel efficiency.

 

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