On December 11, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, has presented the European Green Deal, a roadmap for making the EU’s economy sustainable by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities across all policy areas and making the transition just and inclusive for all.
To set into legislation the political ambition of being the world’s first climate neutral continent by 2050, the Commission will present within 100 days the first ‘European Climate Law’.
“The European Green Deal is our new growth strategy – for a growth that gives back more than it takes away. It shows how to transform our way of living and working, of producing and consuming so that we live healthier and make our businesses innovative. The European Green Deal is our new growth strategy. It is not only about emissions. It’s about boosting innovation, food quality and modern mobility,” Ursula von der Leyen highlighted.
The European Green Deal provides a roadmap with actions to boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy and stop climate change, revert biodiversity loss and cut pollution. It outlines investments needed and financing tools available and explains how to ensure a just and inclusive transition.
The strategy covers all sectors of the economy, notably transport, energy, agriculture, buildings, and industries such as steel, cement, ICT, textiles and chemicals.
On transport sector, the proposed actions include a strategy for sustainable and smart mobility, which will be delivered in 2020, a revised proposal for the Directive on Combined Transport, the review of the alternative fuels infrastructure directive and the TEN-T Regulation, funding call to support the deployment of public recharging and refuelling points as well as the launching of initiatives to increase and better manage the capacity of railways and inland waterways, starting 2021. The Deal’s priority is to shift 75% of EU freight traffic from road to rail.
“As part of the European Green Deal, our aim is to move a significant part of the inland freight done by vehicles to rail and inland waterways. More capacity and multimodality solutions are needed,” said the EC Transport Commissioner, Adina Valean, on its Twitter account.
Following the unveiling of the EU Green Deal, UNIFE again underlines railways’ great role in achieving the ambitious goals set by new EC vision.
“Vision and ambition: this is what Europe needs, and this is what the Green Deal brings. Rail is part of the solution to fight climate-change and deliver a sustainable economy and society for the future generation. The European rail supply industry is ready to play its part in supporting President von der Leyen’s strategy by providing the technologies and innovation necessary to make rail transport ever-more sustainable and efficient,” said UNIFE’s Director General, Philippe Citroën.
The decarbonisation of Europe necessitates the decarbonisation of its transport sector. In fact, our sector remains the second largest greenhouse gas-emitting (GHG) sector after energy production, currently responsible for nearly 24% of Europe’s GHG emissions. And the only whose emissions have been increasing over the past 20 years. Against this backdrop, rail transport has steadily reduced its emissions while increasing its passenger and freight capacity. Investing in energy-efficient, low-emission rail transport appears to be pivotal to fulfilling the European Commission’s ambitions, UNIFE says.
CER also welcomed the European Green Deal as well as the intention of the Commission to continue its work on sustainable finance and strengthening the foundations for sustainable investments, and to support research and innovation in clean transport.
“The European Green Deal is an initiative of unprecedented ambition in any other continent of the globe: with it, the von der Leyen Commission proves its firmest commitment to change pace in the run towards full decarbonisation,” CER Executive Director Libor Lochman, said.
Shifting a substantial part of inland freight away from road will require a step change in investments in rail infrastructure capacity, both extending the network and deploying digital traffic management technologies such as ERTMS. Improved public transport will be fundamental to address the decarbonisation of cities, CER explains.