Car efficiency alone is not enough to decarbonise transport!


On 4 December 2014, the Environment Committee in the European Parliament held a public hearing on air quality and on national emissions beyond 2020. Emissions from road traffic were naturally discussed and the debate focused, as expected, on testing methods. The new test methodology to count for real-driving emissions should be introduced in EU legislation not earlier than 2017 and a representative from Daimler, explained that real driving test (World Light Duty Test Procedure) will require “massive” hardware changes for car manufacturers and a two-step approach to implement the changes at the manufacturing plants.

The bottom line is that real benefits in reducing carbon emissions from transport won’t be seen for approximately another 10 years.

In this context, my call for a more balanced approach to biofuels makes even more sense. Can the EU realistically only rely on car efficiency to decarbonise transport?

It’s true that great improvements have been made in vehicles’ emissions and that EU targets for 2015 have been met already in 2014, but all this is based on inaccurate measurements that do not reflect real driving conditions. In the meantime, biofuels are also under scrutiny and good performing biofuels such as sugarcane ethanol – which can definitely be part of the solution for a more sustainable transport system – are treated in the same way as less performing biofuels. Transport is left without any sound strategy to reduce its emissions!

Once again we encourage the Commission, which will facilitate second reading negotiations on ILUC, and the European Parliament and Member States, to pursue a more nuanced approach to biofuels and work towards a regulatory framework which promotes the best performing products and measures, such as bioethanol in transport and real driving test cycles for vehicles.

Géraldine Kutas

Géraldine Kutas

A seasoned professional specializing in international trade policy, Géraldine Kutas leverages over a decade of experience to strengthen UNICA’s activities across the European Union, the United States and Asia. She has a deep expertise in biofuels and agricultural policies, coupled with extensive exposure to multilateral and regional trade negotiations in agriculture. Ms. Kutas is the author and co-author of several international publications on these topics.

Before joining UNICA, she was a researcher and a professor at the Groupe d’Economie Mondiale at Sciences Po(GEM), Paris, and coordinator of the European Biofuels Policy research programme (EBP). Ms. Kutas has also worked as a consultant at the Inter-American Bank of Development and for agro-business firms.

Ms. Kutas has a Ph.D. in International Economics from the Institut d’Etudes Poliques de Paris and a Master degree in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University, Washington DC.