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Road and air transport sectors call for help as travel numbers dwindle

The EU’s passenger car market recorded a 55% drop in new vehicle registrations in March as the result of the pandemic, according to figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association – known as the ACEA.

At the end of that month, the ACEA, along with other car industry lobby groups, wrote to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to ask for a relaxation of vehicle emissions targets.

The carbon dioxide (CO2) target in question was established in 2008 and mandates that 95% of all new passenger cars sold in Europe must release less than 95g of CO2/km by January 2020. The target then applies to 100% of car sales by 2021. The lobby groups did not request a specific timeline for delayed compliance but suggested that leniency may be necessary given the business impacts of COVID-19.

‘No production, development, testing or homologation work occurs for the time being,’ the letter reads. ‘This upsets the plans we had made to prepare ourselves for complying with existing and future EU laws and regulations within the applicable deadlines set in these regulations. We believe therefore that some adjustment would need to be made to the timing of these laws.’

The plea has been described as ‘opportunistic’ by the sustainable transport NGO Transport & Environment (T&E).  ‘It is too early to judge the impacts of the coronavirus on the car industry but selling fewer cars won't impact compliance with the law,’ says Julia Poliscanova, Clean Vehicle Director at T&E. ‘What matters is the type of car you sell. Any incentives to boost demand once normal life resumes should be targeted at zero-emissions cars. This will help keep jobs in Europe, curb pollution and boost the competitiveness of our car industry.’

Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the trade association of the world’s airlines, has estimated that the industry could lose $314bn this year. As of mid-April, it’s believed that some 95% of international passenger traffic has been lost due to travel restrictions. In Europe, IATA has called for a combination of direct financial support, loans, loan guarantees and tax relief to support struggling airlines.

The Trump administration has already agreed a $25bn bailout plan for struggling airlines in the US. Some green groups have suggested that any similar European bailout must come with climate conditions, such as mandates to use cleaner fuels or pay fuel taxes.

News Item details

Journal title: Energy World

Subjects: Road transport - Aviation - COVID-19 - Emissions -

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