The EU’s keys to achieving “net emissions” by 2050


Reducing the adverse effects of transport is one of the main political objectives of the European Union. The main lines of action are shifting transport towards less polluting and more efficient modes, using more sustainable transport technologies, fuels and infrastructure, and ensuring that transport prices fully reflect adverse environmental and health impacts.

The objective of setting the course for the transition to ‘net zero’ greenhouse gas emissions in the EU as a whole by 2050. With regard to transport, it underlines the need for a systems approach, stresses the importance of the transition to a low – Carbon modes and zero-emission vehicles, underlines the central role of electrification and renewable energies, driving improvements in operational efficiency.

The package of measures aims to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050.

In addition, EU legislation directly addresses the environmental and health impacts of transport by setting binding rules. These standards include emission limits for cars, vans, trucks and buses, specific requirements for transport fuels, noise maps and noise control action plans for large transport infrastructure such as airports.

Transport consumes one third of all final energy in the EU. Most of this energy comes from oil, meaning transport is responsible for much of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions and contributes significantly to climate change. While most other economic sectors, such as energy production and industry, have reduced their emissions since 1990, emissions from transport have increased. These currently account for more than a quarter of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the Spanish Association of Automotive Suppliers SERNAAUTO, legislation should set realistic and achievable goals, ensure fair competition in the market and allow the most efficient solutions to prevail. This transition process should be gradual and should encompass the full range of powertrain technologies, not limited to mandatory electrification and consideration of more options.

This means improving the efficiency of combustion engines and adapting them to renewable and low-carbon fuels (hydrogen, biofuels and synthetic fuels). As well as electrification (battery or fuel cell) and the different degrees of hybridization, with different solutions adapted to each need.

Instead of putting an end to the internal combustion engine in the vehicles that come on the market, at SERNAAUTO they understand that a phasing out of fossil fuels is necessary, which encourages the contribution of renewable and low-carbon fuels that allow to reduce emissions , not only of new vehicles, but also of the existing fleet.

The National Association of Manufacturers ANFAC believes that the electrification of transport is a fundamental tool to achieve the decarbonisation targets set by the European Union with sufficient agility and efficiency to make electromobility a first choice for users. .”

According to José López-Tafall, General Manager of ANFAC, “The sector is already putting a wide range on the market, but the demand needs to be expanded.” “We have a demanding emissions reduction target which, in order to achieve this, will require multiplying the current network of charging stations by 30 over the next ten years. Adopting pending measures and developing a mechanism for governance, monitoring and promotion of deployment are increasingly crucial actions,” explains López-Tafall.

Against those who consider only the “electric car” in their proposal, are those who defend the use of eco-fuels and synthetic fuels (liquid fuels with a low or neutral carbon content) as an alternative that allows immediate and massive reduction of CO2 emissions. reduced due to its compatibility with the existing fleet and infrastructure.

Synthetic fuels are made from hydrogen and CO2 that are extracted from the atmosphere. Electricity from renewable sources is used for the preparation and by means of electrolysis the oxygen and hydrogen are separated from the water, creating renewable hydrogen. Energy companies and car manufacturers such as Porsche, Audi or Mazda defend this alternative. According to his calculations, the emissions of a thermal car can be reduced by up to 90% during operation, while at the same time avoiding the pollution caused by the production of a new vehicle and its battery.

Ecofuels are neutral liquid fuels or have low CO2 emissions produced by municipal, agricultural or forest waste, from plastic to used oil. They are not made with petroleum.

According to Víctor García Nebreda, general secretary of the Madrid Service Station Employers’ Association (Aeescam), ecofuels could significantly reduce our external energy dependence. From his point of view, “the raw material is here and so is the refining industry, but it is essential that the EU and Spain create legal certainty to be able to make the major necessary investments and especially those technologies for the benefit of others”.

Nebreda states that the goal is to reach 2050 with a balance of net emissions of 0. Not only does this mean “no CO2 is emitted from the tailpipe, it means that the entire cycle, from source to wheel, from a net balance of 0”. In this sense, he explains that while the electric vehicle does not produce emissions in the tailpipe, “it does when the batteries are manufactured and depending on how the electricity is generated, it can be even more polluting .”

Ecofuels can make a fundamental contribution to achieving these goals, as “the principle of technological neutrality is fundamental and it would be inexcusable not to allow the development of everything that allows us to achieve the desired objectives”, he decides.

According to the president of the Spanish Association of Fuels and Fuels Sellers (AEVECAR), Alejandro Ripoll, “the energy transition must be fair, with eco-fuels. It would not be necessary to renew 100% of the fleet of vehicles in the Spanish parking lot, only the oldest».

The environmental organization Transport & Environment, on the other hand, argues that “a car that runs on synthetic petrol emits the same amount of toxic nitrogen oxides as that of standard EU E10 petrol and much more carbon monoxide and ammonia”. Of this organization, they explain that “although particulate emissions are significantly reduced with the change, more than two billion are still emitted for every kilometer traveled in a synthetic gasoline vehicle.” According to Carlos Rico, T&E policy officer, “Using a car that runs on electric fuels for five years means an additional cost of 10,000 euros for the driver compared to a battery-powered electric car.”

Spain has one of the largest refining capacities in Europe and the refineries that today produce fossil fuels, such as petrol or diesel, can also produce eco-fuels of non-fossil origin that can be used in virtually all vehicles in circulation today by our streets and highways. Exactly on March 9, the construction of the first advanced biofuel plant in Spain started in Cartagena, in which Repsol will invest 200 million euros. The plant will have the capacity to produce 250,000 tons of advanced biofuels per year, such as biodiesel, biojet, bionaphtha and biopropane, which can be used in aircraft, ships, trucks or cars, and will reduce 900,000 tons of CO2 per year. This is an amount comparable to the CO2 that a forest the size of 180,000 football fields would absorb.

Today, when we fill up our car at a gas station, we are already introducing 10% of these products into our tanks, although we are not aware of it, and for every percentage point we increase, we would save 800,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year.

Source: La Verdad


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