Banning fossil fuels more urgent than ever

“Last chance to prevent a global ‘climate catastrophe',” according to UN Climate Panel

12-11-2018

According to a highly critical report published last month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), time is running out for the climate. To prevent a worldwide ‘climate catastrophe,’ the UN Climate Panel warns that we must limit global warming to 1.5°C instead of 2°C. In order to achieve this, CO2 emissions will need to be reduced by 45 percent by 2030, and reach net zero by 2050. Researchers admit that these targets are very ambitious – achieving them will require ‘unprecedented’ measures, but they also emphasise that it is indeed feasible.

I was also taken aback while reading the coverage of this report. The question is whether this global warming news is alarming enough to actually move UN member states to take far-reaching action. 195 countries gave political approval for this report, which is a good start. However, let’s not forget that climate change is happening as we speak. “There is no time to waste,” says UN secretary general Antonio Guterres. Given transport’s significant contribution to CO2 emissions, in my opinion, our top priority is to bring the era of fossil fuels to an end!

European cities are done with diesel

At a meeting in Luxembourg shortly after the publication of the IPCC report, the European environment ministers decided that by 2030, new cars would be required to emit 35% less CO2. For vans, the ministers agreed upon a reduction of 30% by 2030. Elisabeth Köstinge, Austrian minister of Sustainability and Tourism, called it ‘an important step for further climate protection’.

In all honesty, I had hoped that the Eurpean Union would be more ambitious. Three years after ‘dieselgate’, the number of diesel vehicles on the road is still increasing – there are currently 43 million driving around, and that number keeps going up. France and German are in the lead, with 8.7 and 8.2 million polluting diesel vehicles on the road respectively. That’s a disappointing figure from the two most powerful European member states. With great power comes great responsibility.

Fortunately, we’re seeing some cautious self-reflection in Germany. The government and automotive sector there are working on a swapping scheme for polluting cars. Manufacturers might soon be required to offer cleaner models to owners of cars with diesel or petrol engines. In addition, European cities are thankfully taking matters into their own hands to eliminate diesel vehicles from their city centres. While French cities like Marseille, Lyon, Nice and Strasbourg  are introducing environmental zones, some parts of Paris are implementing car-free Sundays once a month. In the Italian capital of Rome, diesel vehicles are no longer welcome from 2024, and Brussels is taking measures to ban diesel cars as well. These efforts will help contribute to CO2 reduction and cleaner air for everyone.

TOWARDS Climate neutral TRANSPORT with CNG and biomethane

Here’s another bright spot: the Natural & bio Gas Vehicle Association (NGVA Europe) and the European Biogas Association (EBA) have mapped out the role of natural gas in sustainable mobility. What do they have to say? The market for vehicles that run on LNG, CNG and biomethane has the potential to reach 12 million by 2030 – that’s ten times larger than today. I think it’s very positive that the market is starting to see that these fuels are an outstanding alternative to diesel and petrol, even for long distances.

With the growth of a greener fleet, the NGVA and EBA predict that the production of biomethane, CNG and LNG will grow as well. That will also mean more fuelling stations, and PitPoint will personally see to that! For example, we recently got the green light to build the first fixed LNG bunkering station in the harbour of Cologne, opened our new CNG/biomethane station in Amsterdam, and signed a letter of intent with Bio Rights BV to produce biomethane.

In my opinion, hydrogen also shows great potential for the European market. That’s why PitPoint is actively contributing to the H2Benelux project. This project will result in the creation of eight hydrogen filling stations in 2020, as well as eighty hydrogen-powered vehicles. PitPoint is collaborating on this project with Colruyt Group, Shell and Rijkswaterstaat, and WaterstofNet is the project coordinator.

It’s clean fuels projects like these that play a role in combating climate change. Zero-emission fuels aren’t an ‘alternative’ – they’re the only real solution to achieving CO2 reduction.