BRUSSELS – Yesterday, 28 March 2017, the Platform for Electro-Mobility, of which Bellona is a founding member, hosted a high level event in the European Parliament. The message communicated was clear: the EU needs to accelerate its electro-mobility revolution in the coming decade and EU member states need to show much more urgency in their plans to harness the diverse range of technologies needed to make clean electricity the dominant power source for transport, both between and within European cities.
Launched at the end of last year, the Platform on Electro-mobility is the first time such a diverse alliance of industry, operators, infrastructure managers, transport users, cities and civil society organisations has come together around a single vision – the electrification of transport – of achieving numerous, identified benefits: emissions reductions, efficiency gains, better consumer services, job creation and better health.
“Electro-mobility offers a solution to several of our greatest challenges today. In addition to supporting the attainment of our climate objectives through reducing direct emissions from transport and providing storage for renewable electricity, as well as reducing our heavy dependence on imported oil, electro-mobility can aid our fight against Europe’s biggest killer: dangerous levels of air pollution” commented Bellona Europa Director Jonas Helseth, who featured among the panelists of the event.
Activism drives politics: Bellona’s story of initiating Norway’s electric revolution
During the panel discussions Helseth shared Bellona’s experience in initiating Norway’s electric revolution back in 1989: having imported the country’s first modern EV, Bellona teamed up with pop group Aha to foster the introduction of the first EV friendly policies. Three decades later, today Norway enjoys the world’s largest penetration of EVs per capita, with EV sales approaching 40% of the country’s new passenger car sales.
So what lessons to draw for the EU?
Helseth highlighted the key role of both push and pull factors in bringing about the Norwegian success story. The combination of fiscal and practical incentives offered to Norway’s EV drivers has rendered EVs a convenient and cost-effective means of transportation. In fact, the majority of EV owners in Norway quote ‘cost-savings’ as their primary motivation for buying an EV. With regards to lessons for EU countries to draw, however, Helseth pointed out there is no ‘one solution fitting all’, and thus the ‘need to take into account national characteristics and implement country-specific measures’ to foster EV uptake.
While ‘carrots’ are key to stimulating demand, especially in the early stages of the EV market development, Helseth also noted the need for a ‘strong stick’ to boost supply for zero emission vehicles. The currently ongoing reform of the EU’s CO2 emission standards for new cars and vans offers a good opportunity for this stick component to materialise. Drawing on the Californian Zero Emission Vehicles Mandate, Helseth called for the need to adopt similar targets at EU level – requiring car makers to produce and sell minimum shares of EVs. Boosting EV supply is not only a key solution to the incumbent car industry-induced air pollution and related human health crisis, but also crucial to safeguarding Europe’s industrial competitiveness.
“As the electric revolution spreads across the continent, it will be key for all actors involved in the value chains of energy and transport to strategically position themselves in this race. Failure to do so will come at the expense of the continent’s industrial competitiveness and viability” continued Helseth.
The host MEP Ismail Ertug (S&D) opened the discussions by highlighting the importance of enacting correct price signals to boost demand for EVs. In addition to being a key take away from the event’s discussions, this message strongly resonates with the conclusions of Bellona’s newest policy brief ‘Rethinking the cost of conventionally fueled road transport: Getting the fossil car industry to pay the human health bill’.
The brief explores the heavy yet unaccounted for human health costs from the fossil car industry and estimates that if these were to be paid by car makers themselves, we would see a doubling in ICE cars price tags. Our conclusions are simple: electro-mobility is the only viable cost-effective approach to drastically reducing damaging air pollution while safeguarding human health.
The members of the Platform for Electro-Mobility used the occasion of this event to call on Member States to ensure the timely implementation of the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive alongside other measures to accelerate the uptake of electric recharging infrastructure:
- More charging stations: Meet fast growing consumer needs by committing to more publicly accessible charging stations – including along major roads as well as in urban areas – and by supporting the set-up of infrastructure for electric buses in public transport.
- More flexibility: Encourage innovation by allowing for more flexibility on connector requirements for all car-charging stations and for electric buses – ensuring that European citizens and public authorities have full confidence in the viability of their vehicles.
- Simpler permitting and financing: Promote best practice for e-mobility by simplifying permitting procedures and coordinating financial incentives across Europe.
- Greater provision for vehicle charging from buildings: Most electric vehicles recharge during the day while a vehicle is parked (e.g. at home or at work). So policymakers should include greater provisions for electric vehicle charging in the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. At the same time, permitting and approval procedures for existing buildings should be simplified to allow owners and tenants to deploy recharging points.
- Increased resources for Connecting Europe Facility: Use the midterm revision of the European budget (Multi-Annual Financial Framework) to increase the resources for further electrification of all transport modes.
- Genuine Multimodality at the heart of eMobility strategy: generate huge synergies across the whole economy by ensuring that electrified public and private transport modes (from metros to e-bikes) are fully integrated into a low carbon energy system.