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City leaders speak in favour of emission reduction targets up to 65% by 2030 with EU support

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Mayors of 58 major European cities say that “it’s time for a revision of the EU 2030 energy and climate targets to at least 55% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels, legally binding at member-state level.” They also call for EU funding to be channelled to a green and just recovery in cities, especially to “unlock the full potential” of leading cities that have made even higher reduction targets of 65%. The call follows the vote by the European Parliament in favour of higher targets and ahead of the European Council meeting on 15 October in Brussels.

In an open letter to German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, in her role as President of the Council of the EU, and President of the European Council, Charles Michel, the mayors say their proposal would be, “a natural milestone on the road to a climate neutral continent by 2050”.

Cities are a critical part of the European Green Deal, but cannot act alone. “…that’s why we ask you to use EU funding and recovery policies to support leading cities aiming to do their part of this goal with an even higher reduction target of 65%. We will not be able to unlock the potential of Europe’s cities without an ambitious EU policy framework in place,” reads the letter.

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The mayors, representing millions of Europeans, also call for:

  • Significant investments in public transport, green infrastructure and building renovations to enable the transition in cities. The EU’s recovery plan must be designed to deliver the highest political ambitions for emissions reductions;
  • EU funding and financing to be channelled to where it is the most needed – Europe’s cities – to boost the transformational power of urban areas for a green and just recovery, and;
  • recovery funding for fossil-fuel intensive sectors to be conditional to clear decarbonization commitments.

By adopting these measures, the letter concludes: “You will be sending a clear signal that Europe means business on green recovery and supports strong climate action ahead of COP26.”

Anna König Jerlmyr, mayor of Stockholm and president of Eurocities, said: “Cities are at the forefront of climate ambition in Europe and will be the engines of the European Green Deal. The EU must support them with a fit-for-purpose COVID19 recovery plan that directs massive investments to the green and just transition in cities.”

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The letter was co-ordinated through the Eurocities network.

  1. The mayors’ open letter can be viewed here.
  2. The cities that have signed are: Amsterdam, Athens, Banja Luka, Barcelona, Bergen, Bordeaux, Burgas, Braga, Brighton & Hove, Bristol, Budapest, Chemnitz, Cologne, Copenhagen, Coventry, Dortmund, Dublin, Eindhoven, Florence, Frankfurt, Gdansk, Ghent, Glasgow, Grenoble-Alpes Metropole, Hannover, Heidelberg, Helsinki, Kiel, Lahti, Linkoping, Lisbon, Ljubljana, London, Lyon, Lyon Metropole, Madrid, Malmo, Mannheim, Milan, Munich, Munster, Nantes, Oslo, Oulu, Paris, Porto, Riga, Rome, Seville, Stockholm, Strasbourg, Stuttgart, Tallinn, Tampere, Turin, Turku, Vilnius, Wroclaw
  3. Eurocities wants to make cities places where everyone can enjoy a good quality of life, is able to move around safely, access quality and inclusive public services and benefit from a healthy environment. We do this by networking almost 200 larger European cities, which together represent some 130 million people across 39 countries, and gathering evidence of how policy making impacts on people to inspire other cities and EU decision makers.

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CO2 emissions

Europe’s policymakers lag behind truckmakers on CO2 emissions

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EU policymakers are lagging behind truckmakers when it comes to CO2 emissions, a new study shows.

Improvements in aerodynamics and fuel efficiency, as well as flexibilities in the regulations, mean trucks can already achieve the EU’s 2025 CO2 reduction target while producing just a few zero-emission vehicles. T&E says the EU needs to raise targets in order to increase the production of zero-emissions trucks throughout the decade to ensure the industry decarbonises on time.

Lucien Mathieu, acting freight director at T&E, said: “Truckmakers are going green quicker than policymakers, which is absurd. However, this is not the case of the free-market doing its job, but rather policymakers failing to do theirs. Truckmakers are clearly able to decarbonise quicker. It’s time to make them.”

Swedish truckmaker Scania leads the way in terms of CO2 emissions from new trucks with emissions 5.3% lower than the average for the most common type of long-haul truck. Scania’s better emissions performance is primarily down to aerodynamics, which it has achieved without producing any zero-emission trucks. Laggards Renault and IVECO, on the other hand, have the highest emissions: 2.6% and 2.4% above the long-haul average respectively. 

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If all of Europe’s trucks performed as well as the most efficient models on the market, it would reduce average truck CO2 emissions by 6% today, the study shows. But efficiency gains alone will not get Europe’s trucking sector to net-zero, T&E warns.

Lucien Mathieu added: “Best-in-class trucks can deliver emissions reduction today, but efficiency only gets you so far. Europe needs to drastically increase the number of zero-emissions trucks on its roads in the coming years to have any chance of decarbonising the sector on time. But current truck CO2 targets fail to encourage truckmakers to produce them. We need to crank up the targets throughout the decade.”

Most truckmakers have made voluntary commitments for electric sales which go beyond what the EU requires. According to their public announcements, these voluntary commitments would take the market to around 7% zero-emission vehicles in 2025 and 43% in 2030 - higher than the 2% needed in 2025 to meet existing voluntary targets. These voluntary announcements show that the EU can set a realistic - but more ambitious - target of at least 30% zero-emission trucks by 2028, says T&E.

Average CO2 emissions for new long-haul trucks were higher in larger western European countries such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom, while smaller countries such as Bulgaria, Estonia, Portugal and Slovakia performed significantly better. Poland's long-haul truck emissions, for example, are 3.5% below the EU average while Germany’s are 2.2% above. 

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Commission approves €88.8 million budget increase for Danish scheme supporting reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from farming

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The European Commission has found that a budget increase of €88.8 million (DKK 660m), made available through the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) for an existing Danish scheme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from farming, is in line with EU State aid rules. The increased budget to be funded via the RRF, following the Commission's positive assessment of the Danish recovery and resilience plan and its adoption by Council, (SA.63890) is allocated to an existing Danish scheme (SA. 58791) already approved by the Commission on 21 May 2021.

The measure will be in place until 31 December 2026, and had an initial budget of €238m (DKK 1.8 billion). The primary objective of this scheme is to contribute to the Danish target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. The aid will contribute to removing carbon-rich farmland from production and subsequently to transforming the land into nature areas by restoring its natural hydrology through the disconnection of drains and re-wetting of the land. The existing scheme was assessed based on its compliance with EU guidelines for state aid in the agricultural and forestry sectors and in rural areas, which allow aid to facilitate the development of certain economic activities – in this case the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from farming. The Commission has now concluded that the additional funding allocated to the existing Danish scheme through the RRF does not change the initial assessment of the scheme, which remains in line with EU State aid rules. All investments and reforms entailing State aid contained in the national recovery plans presented in the context of the RRF must be notified to the Commission for prior approval, unless covered by one of the State aid block-exemption rules, in particular the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) and, for the agricultural sector, the Agricultural Block Exemption Regulation (ABER).

The Commission will assess such measures as a matter of priority and has provided guidance and support to member states in the preparatory phases of the national plans, to facilitate the rapid deployment of the RRF. At the same time, the Commission makes sure in its decision that the applicable State aid rules are complied with, in order to preserve the level playing field in the Single Market and ensure that the RRF funds are used in a way that minimises competition distortions and do not crowd out private investment.

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The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.63890 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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Climate Action: Data shows CO2 emissions from new cars strongly decreased in 2020, with electric vehicles tripling their market share as new targets are applied

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Provisional monitoring data, published on 29 June, shows that the average CO2 emissions of new cars registered in the EU, Iceland, Norway and the UK in 2020 have decreased by 12% compared to 2019. This is by far the greatest annual decrease in emissions since CO2 standards started to apply in 2010. It coincides with the phase in of stricter CO2 emissions standards for cars as of January 1, 2020. For the period 2020-2024, the Regulation sets the EU fleet-wide CO2 emission targets at 95 gCO2/km for newly registered cars and at 147g CO2/km for newly registered vans. The main reason for this sharp decrease of CO2 emissions was the surge in the share of electric vehicle registrations, which tripled from 3.5% in 2019 to over 11% in 2020.

Despite the shrinking overall market for new cars due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the total number of electric cars registered in 2020 still increased, reaching for the first time over 1 million a year. The average CO2 emissions from new vans sold in the EU, Iceland, Norway and the United Kingdom in 2020 also slightly decreased. The provisional data shows that European legislation on CO2 emissions standards continues to be an effective tool for reducing CO2 emissions from cars and vans, and that the shift to electro-mobility is underway.

Vehicle manufacturers have three months to review the data and may notify the Commission if they believe there are any errors in the dataset. The final data, to be published at the end of October 2021, will be the basis for the Commission to determine manufacturers' compliance with their specific emission targets, and whether any fines are due for excess emissions. The revision of the current CO2 emissions standards to align them with the EU's higher new climate ambitions will be part of the Commission's Fit for 55 proposals, due for adoption on 14 July. For more information please see here.

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