Who pays the bill for CO2 reduction?

The biggest dilemma for 2019


First and foremost, best wishes for a sustainable 2019! May this be the year that we achieve even more with clean fuels, and bring 100% emission-free transport yet another step closer. Before I look ahead to what 2019 has in store for us, I want to begin with a recap of 2018. A year ago, I stated in my blog that 2018 would be ‘the year of truth’ for the battle against climate change and air pollution. It would be a year in which Europe would take on the role of global leader in climate policy. Did my predictions come true?

CLIMATE-neutral Europe: from ambition to action

Over the course of the past year, there was a noticeable shift in the public debate. The discussion was no longer about whether or not climate change was happening, but instead how to combat it, and who should pay for it. These questions were also prominent during the Katowice Climate Change Conference in November. Prior to this event, the European Union already announced that it would strive for a climate-neutral Europe by 2050. ‘To confirm Europe’s commitment to lead in global climate action’ and ‘because ‘immediate and decisive climate action is essential,’ it stated in its report ‘A Clean Planet for all’.

This is, of course, a very worthy goal. In addition, I also personally experienced a growing awareness for the energy transition and sustainable transport, especially in Europe. That gives me hope, but I’m not jumping for joy just yet. The problem isn’t that we don’t know what needs to be done; the problem is that we keep going back to the drawing board and wondering if our plans good enough. We don’t have time for that anymore!

And the global leader in CO2 reduction is…

Today’s leader in CO2 reduction isn’t Europe, it’s China. The Chinese are heavily investing in the transition to electric transport and are focusing on the potential of using hydrogen as fuel. The effects of CO2 emissions and air pollution are more visible over there than in Europe and require immediate action. I’m impressed by China’s decisiveness in this regard. It’s clear that Europe won’t automatically be handed the leading role.

However, I don’t want to be all too negative. Europe has taken some major steps towards an emission-free future. For example, the European Commission showed exactly where it stood by issuing a final warming to member states with poor air quality. Furthermore, the EU Parliament and member states reached an agreement that 32% of fuels must come from renewable sources by 2030. Finally, last autumn, the EU announced investments of nearly 700 million euro to further expand clean fuel infrastructure.

Polluters should pay

So, my prediction and wishes for 2018 didn’t come true. Nevertheless, I still think that the EU deserves some credit: ‘We might avoid the worst effects of climate change,’ the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat hopefully stated in the Yearbook of Global Climate Action 2018, provided that we continue along this same path.

In my opinion, the biggest challenge of 2019 lies in gaining the necessary support for Europe’s CO2 reduction plans. It’s not going to be easy, as demonstrated in France for example. The biggest question is who will cover the cost of the energy transition – and opinions are certainly divided. I still think that the shift to clean fuels should be fair: today’s drivers shouldn’t have to bear the biggest financial burden for CO2 emissions. Instead, this should fall to those who are actually responsible for causing the harmful emissions in the first place. In short, the polluters should pay.

PitPoint’s transition to a European player

And what about PitPoint? I’m proud of the fact that in 2018, PitPoint made the transition from a Dutch company to a European company. As an international provider of clean fuels, we’re now contributing to sustainable mobility at the European level. We’re working hard to lay the foundations for clean fuel infrastructure in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France. It’s great to see the progress we’re making, and we’ll continue working on this in the year ahead.

PitPoint’s growth goes hand in hand with the growth of the electric vehicle market. Now that electric vehicles are becoming more affordable, I predict a major rise in the adoption of EV mobility. The only limitation is that the automotive industry won’t be able to keep up with the growth. As clean fuels systems integrator, PitPoint will focus on addressing the need for additional electric charging points this year. In addition, we will continue to expand our network of fuelling stations for LNG, CNG, biomethane and hydrogen.

I’m still firmly convinced that the answer to clean transport is a combination of clean fuels. In other words: Europe’s energy transition will require a multitude of fuel solutions. There isn’t just one ‘silver bullet’ clean fuel. For every market and every vehicle, the path to zero emissions will look different, depending on availability, affordability and required access. That’s what I’ll continue to focus on this year, together with my colleagues and our partners.

Here’s to a good start to 2019!

Erik Kemink