>The News Sheet of the European Federation for Transport and
>Environment (T&E) No 62, October 1997
*Fuel taxes do cut unemployment - EC paper*
New research by the European Commission has confirmed what T&E
has been saying for years - that a shift in taxation from labour
to pollution could bring about a significant reduction in
pollution and create a number of jobs.
The research is explained in an internal working paper looking
at the impact of restructuring the Comminity framework for the
taxation of energy. T&E has seen a copy.
The paper takes three economic models based on different numbers
of industrial sectors, energy products and EU member states. Its
conclusions are clear: a modest increase in energy taxes would
have a significant positive effect on GDP through increased
employment and boosts for agriculture, the equipment goods
industry and improved sales of consumer goods. As for the
negative impact on transport and energy-intensive industries, it
is likely to be small or even non-existent; in fact the cut in
labour taxes might even boost the transport industry, the paper
The proposed increase for petrol and diesel due for 1 January
1998 would be just 0.083 ecu/litre, with modest staged increases
up to 2005. According to the models, by 2005 there could be
anything up to half a million new jobs created from these modest
rises alone, with anything from 0.5% to 1.6% less carbon dioxide
(and other pollutants) emitted.
T&E director Gijs Kuneman said: "We have been saying this for
years, but the Commission will take this more seriously having
worked it out for itself.
"What is really good to hear is that the effect is so noticeable
with such a small tax increase. What we need now are targets for
reducing pollutants and climate-changing gases from the transport
sector, so we can work out how much the price mechanism can take
us towards genuinely sustainable transport."
Knowledge of the paper's existence comes at a fascinating time.Earlier
this month the Commission published guidelines on
employment as part of preparations for the special European
Council on employment on 21 November. The guidelines say the tax
system must become more "employment-friendly".
*First emissions-based aircraft tax introduced in Zurich*
Zurich has become the world's first airport to put a charge on
aircraft which do not conform to certain emissions standards.
The new charge, which came into effect on 1 September, coincided
with a new report commissioned by the European Commission which
says carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft are growing more than
twice as fast as the global average.
Zurich's action, which is likely to be followed next year by
Geneva airport and possibly Basel (if France agrees - Basel
airport has dual Swiss-French status), is expected to affect just
over half the aircraft using the airport.
It has divided aircraft into five classes. The fifth (cleanest)
class, which includes the Saab 340A and Airbus A320 series, will
pay no additional charge. The fourth (Boeing 747, 757 and 767,
MD11 and older Airbus models) will cause airlines to pay an
additional 5% on top of their existing charges. The third class
pays 10% extra, class 2 20% and class 1 40%.
Only 5% of aircraft using the airport fall into the worst two
classes, with 17% likely to pay the class 4 charge and 30% the
class 3 charge.
The measure is aimed mainly at reducing nitrogen oxides from the
area north of Zurich where the airport is situated. The airport
authorities believe the emissions-based charge will eventually
mean 80 million tonnes less NOx gets emitted.
The Commission's report was described by an unnamed official in
the research directorate as "a warning against inaction". The
official told the environmental information service Ends: "There
are high risks involved in doing nothing - the question is how
to handle growth rates in the future."
The growth of air traffic means CO2 emissions are growing by 3-4%
per year, double the global average. The report forecasts that,
if current trends in air traffic continue, emissions could grow
five times by 2100. NOx emissions are also rising and their rate
of increase is expected to continue.
Following pressure from T&E and other lobbying organisations, the
EC is currently preparing a report on the feasibility of taxing
aviation fuel, which is due to be ready around the turn of the
October arrived with a shock for the people of Paris. When
pollution reached severe levels, the government banned all
vehicles with an even number, except emergency services, foreign
cars and cars with three or more people, and public transport was
free. By lunchtime, pollution levels had come down from "level
three" to "level one". See Commentary, page 3.
*Kuneman leaving after five years*
T&E's director Gijs Kuneman is leaving the Federation at the end
of the year.
Kuneman, 34, has been with T&E for five years and has established
the secretariat in Brussels. He is returning to his native
Netherlands to become policy officer for European agriculture and
nature conservation at T&E's Dutch member Stichting Natuur en
*Who dares go first on road pricing?*
Transport commissioner Neil Kinnock says "road pricing and
charges differentiated according to types of vehicle and to the
times and place of travel" are a better option than fuel taxes.
Speaking last month at a Commission conference on "fair and
efficient road pricing", he acknowledged that road pricing is the
responsibility of national governments, but added: "At a time
when the possibilities of such charges are gaining increased
attention in member states, we have a responsibiliity to address
the conditions under which road pricing could be introduced and
the effects it could generate."
Magnus Nilsson, who represented the T&E board at the conference,
said: "The discussion showed there are no technical, legal or
other obstacles blocking the immediate introduction of full-scale
urban road pricing. As Kinnock concluded in his final speech,
the only remaining obstacle is the lack of courage among European
politicians, who know infrastructure costs money and believe road
pricing costs votes.
"An urgent mission for T&E members is to convince the public and
politicians that urban road pricing is an extremely effective
tool to improve both the environment and the economy. Kinnock
correctly concluded that what is most urgently needed is a couple
of European cities daring to go first."
*PPPs aimed at saving TENs*
The EC has launched an initiative to try and enable partnerships
between the private and public sectors to resurrect its stagnant
programme for trans-European transport networks (TENs).
The TENs programme is badly behind schedule, including the 14
priority projects agreed at the December 1994 European Council
in Essen. The main problem has been the absence of funding - the
public sector doesn't have enough money, and the private sector
has been reluctant to invest its money.
In a communication published last month, the Commission says it
must clarify the rules on competition and public procurement, to
make it clear when public/private partnerships (known as "PPPs")
could make sense. It says another communication should be
published by the end of the year clarifying the rules on state
The communication identifies six TEN projects which it says would
be well suited to PPP funding. Two are on the Essen list: the
high-speed rail projects linking Madrid and Barcelona, and Paris,
Brussels, Cologne, Amsterdam adn London. Of the other four, two
involve the Semmering and Brenner tunnels between Austria and
Italy; there is a rail link between Athens and Piraeus, and a new
airport for Berlin.
*T&E calls for cleaner fuels for troubled waters*
T&E and two other environmental NGOs have criticised the world's
shipping authorities for failing to reduce air pollution from
Last month's marine pollution convention organised by the
International Maritime Organisation (IMO) could have set a global
maximum for the sulphur content of marine fuels - it did, but the
level of 4.5% effectively means nothing, as only 0.02% of all
fuels used worldwide actually have more than 4.5% of sulphur.
Before the conference, T&E joined forces with the Swedish NGO
Secretariat on Acid Rain and the European Environmental Bureau
to publish a factsheet "Cleaner shipping - a cheap way to reduce
acidification in Europe". It called for action to reduce sulphur
and nitrogen emissiosn from ships, and for the North and Baltic
seas to be adopted as special protection areas.
T&E's director Gijs Kuneman said: "In the medium term shipping
can only remain credible as a clean mode of transport if its air
pollution is drastically reduced. We're not talking about
expensive or high-tech measures here, it's just a quesion of
engine adjustment and exhaust after-treatment like catalytic
reduction which could reduce NOx emissions by up to 90%."
The three organisations calculate that limiting the sulphur
content of bunker fuels in the Baltic and North Sea will cost the
shipping industry 87 million ecus, but would save 1150m per year
of equivalent land-based measures.
The IMO/MarPol conference did not make the North Sea a special
area, but it did impose a sulphur maximum of 1.5% in the Baltic,
even though this will take at least seven years to come into
A final reminder that next month sees two important conferences
in Vienna: the UN-ECE regional conference "Transport and the
Environment" takes place 12-14 November, and two days earlier a
NGO Forum is being held, part-organised by T&E under the auspices
of the Austrian environment ministry and the mayor of Vienna.
Attendance lists for the main conference are now closed, but any
NGO wanting to attend the Forum can do so. Further information
is available from the Vienna mayor's office, fax +43 1 4000 7110.
*Shock, horror - car-free cities could actually be fun!*
>a commentary by Chris Bowers
Many will not believe it, even more won't want to believe it, but
the ban on nearly half the cars in Paris on 1 October could well
prove to be a trial run for the city of the future.
I was in Paris earlier this month, not on 1 October but a few
days later. I wanted to see not what happened but how people now
view what happened. There were a range of great excuses: those
who claimed they had an odd-numbered car because it ended in 75
(all cars in Paris do), the man who claimed that as his number
ended in 0 and 0 is neutral he was allowed to drive, and the
woman who defied the ban and drove her even-numbered car but said
she put on a short skirt to help her charm any policeman who
But what came through all the descriptions was that people were
amazed. One man told me: "When we heard on the afternoon before
that all even-numbered cars would be banned from entering the
city, we all thought no-one would respect it and there would be
chaos, but it was amazing - it was like Paris in August when
everyone is on holiday!"
There's a hidden message here. It's not that banning half the
cars on all or just occasional days is a good idea - it probably
isn't. Athens has tried it, and while its air quality has
improved sufficiently for it to be given the 2004 Olympics, there
has been a massive trade in second cars, and adverts in
newspapers and car magazines advertise odd or even number plates,
so households can have one of each to stay mobile seven days a
No, the message from Paris is that getting cars out of city
centres can actually be fun. People will of course say that 1
October was an exception, it was new, it happened on a day when
the sun shone, and it didn't last long as all cars were let back
into Paris the next day. This is true. It's also true that the
city can't afford to offer free public transport every day, which
it did on 1 October.
But many people in Paris discovered what people in car-free
residential areas have been discovering for years - that cities
without cars are really rather nice. Even the woman in the short
skirt who drove her even-numbered car to work said she was
insisting not so much on her right as on her routine. Give her
a safe, convenient car-free routine and she may also be happy.
Planners, economists and environmentals have long recognised that
city centres without cars are a good idea. What has been missing
is the political will. A few more days like 1 October in cities
like Paris and people could soon be voting to ban the car.
*Has Mario Monti found a tax breakthrough?*
Efforts at European level to force transport users to pay the
full costs of transport have tended to fail in recent years
because the EU has limited powers over taxation. But there has
been an interesting development over the past few weeks which
could signal something of a breakthrough.
When the EC taxation commissioner Mario Monti presented a
proposal for a "tax code of conduct" to EU finance ministers last
month, it was widely reported in the media as being a proposal
to safeguard jobs.
The Commission's thinking runs like this: since the start of the
internal market, capital has become more mobile, which makes it
less lucrative for taxation. National governments have therefore
moved taxes away from capital on to labour, but this has
obviously affected employment. The EC's research suggests that
up to a third of the Community's 18 million unemployed are out
of work as a result of heavy taxes on labour, and it believes the
situation will get worse when the single currency comes into
The idea that taxes on labour can cause unemployment is nothing
new, and the Commission's research we feature on page 1 of this
Bulletin only makes the point more strongly. The interesting
development is that Monti would like to harmonise some forms of
direct taxation, to avoid companies moving to countries where
certain tax rules are more lenient than in others. Yet he knows
that many of the 15 member states will not like the idea, so his
first step is for a non-binding "tax code of conduct".
If the idea of harmonised direct taxation catches on - either
just as a code of conduct or in the long term via direct
legislation - one or two environmentally motivated initiatives
could become viable again. The obvious example is the Energy/CO2
tax proposed by Carlo Ripa di Meana in 1991 - that was rejected
at European level because the Community had no mandate for a
measure of direct taxation.
One of the attractive features of environmentally motivated tax
proposals is that most have been fiscally neutral, implying a
shift away from labour on to pollution and other anti-social
activities. While environmental concerns may not be at the front
of Monti's thinking, NGOs should follow the fate of his "tax code
of conduct" proposal with interest.
The European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E) is
currently seeking a
for a full-time position to start on 1 January 1998 based at
T&E's office in Brussels. The Director will be responsible for
the practical and financial management of the T&E secretariat and
for political lobbying of and representations to the European
institutions. The successful candidate will have professional
experience in a relevant field, will be well organised and able
to work independently, and have a clear commitment to
environmental protection. (S)he will speak fluent English with
a fair knowledge of French and preferably one or more other
European languages. For a more detailed job description, contact
T&E, Bd de Waterloo 34, 1000 Brussels, Belgium, or fax +32 2 502
*Lack of American political will thwarts Kyoto preparations*
The chances of meaningful progress being made on reducing
greenhouse gases at December's climate change summit in Kyoto
look to be getting smaller after another preparatory meeting ran
Contracting parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change met
in Bonn in August, but while all countries believe an agreement
on reducing the amount of gases causing global warming is vital,
there was a lack of political will, notably by the Americans.
Michael Zammit Cutajar, the convention's secretary, said only a
real political willingness will help the participants in the
Kyoto conference to reach agreement.
Japan has announced it is willing to support a 5% cut in CO2
emissions by 2010 based on 1990 levels. This contrasts with the
15% cut the EU Council of Ministers said it was willing to
support in March.
Meanwhile President Clinton is holding urgent talks with
industrial representatives to try to persuade them to support
greenhouse gas reductions. American industry is currently
spending large sums of money on an advertising campaign putting
across the message that action on global warming is not
There is just one more preparatory meeting for Kyoto planned: it
takes place at the end of October in Bonn.
Two of Europe's leading organisations promoting cycle paths,
Sustrans and De Frie Fugle, have brought out a report on the
development of a European Cycle Route network. The report is
part of an application for Commission funding to help develop the
network, known as "EuroVelo". It says long-distance cycle routes
linking two, three or more countries are the latest development
in tourism infrastructure. New Publications, this page.
A driving school with a difference has opened in Berlin."Verkehr
human" teaches drivers to use their vehicles in a way
that saves on fuel, produces fewer harmful emissions, and
respects other road users. It is run by Lothar Taubert, a
driving instructor who has researched environmentally sound
driving methods at the Technical University in Berlin. He
encourages drivers to have a full understanding of how their
vehicle works, and to occasionally say hello to cyclists when
stopped at red lights "because the cyclist may need a bit of
cheering up!" Verkehr human, fax +49 30 6981 0011
The Commission is making another attempt at setting a Europe-wide
maximum drink-drive limit. Transport commissioner Neil Kinnock
was expected to ask this month's Council of Transport Ministers
to re-open the debate on having 0.5mg of alcohol per 100ml of
blood as the most liberal level in all member states. The
proposal was first presented in 1988 but has never been approved.
Bicycles are not totally emission-free - T&E's Swiss member
organisation VCS/ATE has calculated that around 420 kWh are
needed to make a new bicycle, which means about 105 kg of carbon
dioxide. But that is still 70 times less than the average amount
of CO2 used in making a middle-sized car (7290kg). The
calculations do not include certain materials, like titanium,
aluminium or carbon.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
Taxation commissioner Mario Monti would like airlines, airports
and ferry operators to understand that duty-free shops within the
EU will end by 30 June 1999, despite their lobbying. In a
statement he said: "Seldom in the history of the EU has so much
money and time been spent by such a wide coalition of interests
on trying to reverse a Council decision ... but in this case the
decision is not going to be changed, even if the budgets were
increased to infinity."
AND FINALLY ...
The Swedish road administration has embarrassed the country's two
major car producers, Volvo and Saab, with a new internal policy
on employee travel. The policy, due to come into effect in
January, says employees have to travel by environment-friendly
means, and it specifies which cars the administration is allowed
to use (based on emissions and fuel consumption). Unfortunately
no Swedish-made car complies with the specifications, in fact
only one Volvo model (which is made in the Netherlands) passes
the test. Saab and Volvo are not amused.
*New Publications and Events*
Cleaner shipping - a cheap way to reduce acidification in Europe,
factsheet by T&E, EEB and Swedish Acid Rain Secretariat, free
Europe fails the ozone test, four-page factsheet, ECAS, fax: +32
2 548 0499.
European Cycle Routes, by Jens Erik Larsen and Philip Insall,
Sustrans, Bristol (GB), GB 12.50. Fax: +44 117 929 4173.
The European Environment Agency has brought out a CD-Rom version
of The Dobris Assessment on the state of the environment which
appeared in August 1995 ("Europe's environment: the Dobris
Assessment"). Contact EEA in Copenhagen, fax +45 33 367199.
Intelligent Transport Systems world congress, ITS America/Ertico
Europe/German Transport Ministry, 21-14 October, Berlin. Fax ITS
on +32 2 550 0031.
Evaluating Cycle Challenge, University of Nottingham, 26
November, Nottingham (GB). Fax +44 115 951 4879.
T&E Bulletin is the official news shet of the European Federation
for Transport and Environment (T&E). It appears 10 times a year
and is free to members of the Federation.
T&E has 29 members registered in 1997 in a total of 20 countries.
It lobbies for an environmentally sound approach to European
The next issue will appear in mid-November. The deadline for
contributions to reach either the T&E secretariat or the ediitor
is Friday 31 October.
T&E Secretariat: Bd de Waterloo 34, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium.
Tel: +32 2 502 9909; fax: +32 2 502 9908; e-mail:
Editor of Bulletin: Chris Bowers, tel & fax: +44 1883 624917; e-
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