Delaying the publication of our July’s EHA  Monthly Update till after the Belgian Independence Day fireworks of July 21 was worth it: the EU’s Communication on A European Strategy for Low-Emission Mobility  published on July 20 (COM2016/501) did it again: surprising the incrowd with its zero emission ambition as it stated: “as transport represents almost a quarter of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions and is the main cause of air pollution in cities, Europe’s answer to these challenges is an irreversible shift to low-emission mobility in terms of carbon and air pollutants….by midcentury, greenhouse gas emissions from transport will need to be at least 60% lower than in 19901 and be firmly on the path towards zero. Emissions of air pollutants from transport that harm our health need to be drastically reduced without delay…” Like the White Paper’s ambition in 2011 to half conventional fuelled vehicles in urban areas in 2030, several indications in the Communication seem to be talking “zerious” low emission business:

Proposing a set of actions regarding  (1) higher efficiency of the transport system, (2) low-emission alternative energy for transport, and (3) low- and zero emission vehicles, the communication includes some surprising clear texts acknowledging for example that “while the existing electricity infrastructure generally has the capacity to accommodate widespread use of electricity in transport, challenges may occur at the distribution level at peak times”.  The EC Electricity Market Design proposal is referred to as “to reduce barriers to the self-generation, storage and consumption of renewable electricity… that.. in the long-run vehicle batteries could also become an integral part of the electricity system and provide energy to the grid when needed…….. similarly, hydrogen (yesss!), bio-methane and synthetic fuels could be produced from electricity at times of low prices, providing a form of energy storage.” Last but not least EC ‘s plans “to analyse the impact of different ways to incentivise low- and zero-emission vehicles in a technology neutral way, such as setting specific targets for them demonstrated that signals of also automotive warming to these type of measures is changing the momentum. Needless to say that for this indeed …”such vehicles will need to be properly defined, including possibly distinguishing between low-emission and zero-emission vehicles” (electric vehicles anybody??) as the Communication stated.

(Photo courtesy Toyota Europe: Gas and electricity network operator Stedin since July 6 2016  is leasing two Toyota Mirai fuel cell vehicles for a 4-year period as part of a plan to have a majority of zero emission vehicles in the company’s fleet by 2020)