The year of truth

By PitPoint Managing Director, Erik Kemink

15-01-2018
European leadership versus climate change

PitPoint would like to wish you a happy and sustainable 2018! I am curious what this coming year holds in store for us. Developments related to clean fuels surely will not remain stagnent. My prediction is that Europe will be responsible for many changes in this area. To put it in stronger terms, I think that 2018 will be the year that Europe takes the lead in the fight against climate change and air pollution.

I have listed a number of moments that I believe will be decisive in the development of clean fuels, and therefore a cleaner future.

A final pit stop for the Climate Agreement

In November this year, the final touches will be put to the Paris Agreement when world leaders then gather in Poland to iron out the last few remaining issues. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said in his New Year’s address that ‘Unity is the path’. This is despite the fact that the US is not involved, and nothing have come (yet) from signals from this superpower that they may eventually support the Climate Agreement.

The attitude of the USA provides Europe with a clear opportunity to assume the role of the global leader when it comes to climate change. The gaping hole left behind by the USA must be closed off by the remaining countries. Coalitions will have to be forged, both nationally and regionally, if we really want to achieve zero emissions. I consider cooperation within Benelux to promote electric transportation in these three countries to be a wonderful example.

Macron’s approach of assuming the role as attack leader in the fight against climate change provides hope. During his state visit to China, for instance, Macron and President Xi Jingping have prepared for the meeting in Poland. With China’s assistance, Macron sees an opportunity in ‘making our planet beautiful and great again’. I think it is important to hold onto this optimism!

Juncker showing the way towards alternative fuels

This year the European Commission will continue its work towards a more sustainable Europe. The ten priorities outlined by the Juncker Commission will be implemented and completed, which includes priority number three: ‘Making energy more secure, affordable and sustainable’. ‘

In 2018, the Commission will focus in particular on new CO2 standards for road traffic and invest more time and money into the development of batteries and alternative fuels in Europe. Hopefully this will also contribute to better air quality. The most recent Air Quality Index shows that there is still much to do when it comes to clean cities in Europe.

In addition to the Commission’s own contribution to clean mobility, it is in my opinion also high time to ensure that Member States actively invest in clean fuels.

Merkel’s empty promise

Back to the present. All eyes are currently trained on Germany, and in particular on Angela Merkel, because the direction of its future cabinet will have a major impact on European climate policy for the coming years. However, unfortunately it seems that the climate and clean air do not enjoy priority in the current coalition negotiations.

In an attempt to rescue the marriage between CDU, SPD and CSU, which appears to be on the rocks, Germany’s climate target for 2020 has been taken off the table without much ceremony. According to the negotiating parties, the target of 40 percent lower CO2 emissions in 2020 compared to 1990, is no longer feasible. They instead want to focus on the climate goals for 2030.

This is very regrettable and it may even have a demotivating effect on countries that are striving to achieve the 2020 deadline. This is a particularly painful decision for Merkel, as it goes against her election promise. Hopefully the negotiating parties will come to their senses, since there is no mercy when it comes to the speed of climate change.

Moving forward with great courage

Despite recent developments in Germany, PitPoint has the necessary courage and will continue to steadily build the European market in 2018. I look forward with our team to expanding our network of cleaner fuel stations with CNG, LNG, green gas, electricity and hydrogen (as we did recently in Delfzijl, the Netherlands), and to introduce stations in new countries.

If 2018 is indeed the year that Europe makes a fist against climate change, then PitPoint’s support is the one reliable factor that can be counted on.

Erik Kemink