Cargo Bikes Needed to Decarbonise Transport


The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) has made a statement responding to yesterday’s publication of the European Commission’s strategy for low-emission mobility.

The good news first: The long-awaited EU Strategy for Low-Emission Mobility sticks to the 60 % CO2 emission reduction target for the transport sector by 2050 (compared to 1990). The target remains to be a very ambitious one considering that transport is the only economic sector that has seen an increase of its Greenhouse Gas emissions since 1990.

Many of the means that the Commission has put forward are laudable, in particular the focus on electro-mobility in an attempt to reduce the 94% dependency of the transport sector on oil. ECF also welcomes the further initiatives of the Commission to work on stricter post-2020 carbon dioxide standards for cars and vans and its push for correct price signals: “Across the EU, charging should move towards distance-based road charging systems based on actual kilometres driven, to reflect better polluter-pays und user-pays principles.”

ECF is also pleased to see that the Commission acknowledges the importance cities and local authorities have to play in the delivery of this strategy, and more specifically about the acknowledgement that they “encourage modal shift to active travel (cycling and walking), public transport and/or shared mobility schemes, i.e. bike- and car-sharing and car-pooling, to reduce congestion and pollution in cities.”

The ECF has however expressed their disappointment about the absence of concrete EU measures to help cities to assume their pivotal role. As part of ECF’s submission to this strategy, it identified that Member States, the European Parliament and the Committee of the Regions all support inclusion of cycling at the highest levels of EU policies.

A EU Cycling Strategy should outline EU level action in help delivering a doubling of cycling over the next 10 years, hereby creating 400,000 jobs, decongesting cities and cutting CO2 emitted by the transport sector.

ECF Advocacy Director Adam Bodor said: “On behalf of our community, ECF will continue to advocate for the development of a genuine EU support by launching an EU Cycling Strategy campaign in autumn 2016.”

The Platform for Electro-mobility also welcomed the Commission’s Strategy for Low Emission Mobility in driving the shift to clean, low carbon transport powered by electricity as the integration of all type of emissions is one key element of the uptake of electric vehicles, especially in cities and urban areas, allowing local and regional authorities to better comply with other European standards beyond CO2 emissions.

In its representations to the Commission, the Platform has highlighted that electro-mobility provides a huge opportunity for innovation and job creation and allows Europe to reduce its dependency on imported oil. 94% of energy use in transport is oil and the shift away from this is recognised in the Strategy with one of the three pillars focused on “Low-emission alternative energy for transport.” This transformation can create over a million additionaljobs and reduce the millions of euros of costs of transport-related air pollution emissions.

Platform Chair Senan McGrath said, “The Strategy recognises the pivotal potential for electro-mobility in the EU’s low emissions transport strategy. Now we need this translated into concrete actions to end road transport’s addiction to oil and encourage the shift to low emissions electric multimodality. In doing so there is a unique opportunity for European business to be at the forefront of delivering clean, green and energy efficient mobility. We look forward to working with the Commission in developing these proposals.”

Key announcements welcomed by the Platform include recognition that to achieve widespread adoption of electric vehicles, charging infrastructure needs to become widely available throughout Europe and that financing opportunities through the European Fund for Strategic Investments will be further exploited to achieve this. The Platform also welcomes the emphasis upon open cross border and EU-wide electro-mobility services market for consumers including providing real-time information on public charging points and supporting interoperable payment systems. The need to facilitate integration of electric vehicles with smart grids based on innovative technologies and advanced market rules will be key to further accelerate overall adoption of electro-mobilityand must be a feature of the forthcoming Energy Market Reform.

The Platform was also pleased that the Strategy recognises that “transformational change towards low- and zero-emission vehicles will need to be supported by a wide range of measures at all levels of policy-making to engage both manufacturers and users.” Also, that it recognises the importance of electric rail services for both passengers and freight.

However, the Platform is disappointed that the Strategy has a limited focus on ways to reduce emissions in urban environments, including through the use of light electric vehicles such as scooters and e-bikes, and the lack of concrete measures proposed in this crucial area of action.

Senan McGrath concluded, “The shift to electro-mobility requires action at the EU, national and local level and by the public and private sectors working in their common interests. The Commission has signaled it is persuaded and the members of the Platform are working to make this a growing reality. Now we need all EU Member States to embrace the agenda with the common commitment to enable clean electricity to become the dominant energy source for transport both within and between cities.”

Where does this leave the UK in this post-Brexit world? Will Sustrans remain as part of the ECF? Will the UK government now conveniently forget the EU targets for emissions, even though the UK signed up in Paris only a few months ago to limit the effects of climate change?

How long will it take till Business Improvement Districts (“BIDs”) perceive the opportunity in offering cargo bike delivery to their town centres instead of diesel powered courier vans? Will any councils in the UK offer financial incentives to help with the purchase of e-cargo-bikes?


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