Zero emission mobility
As we keep repeating, 31% of greenhouse gas emissions in France are produced by transport (buses, cars, trucks) and 63% of nitrogen oxide emissions are from diesel road transport. The energy transition is therefore not a far-fetched idea to be taken lightly. Fossil fuels (gas and diesel) will have to be replaced by zero-emission fuels (electric and hydrogen) in heavy vehicles. National and European policies are all in agreement with these objectives, setting up ambitious regulations to reduce CO2 emissions and limit the polluting emissions produced by the transport sector.
The most impactful, to accompany the decarbonization of land transport, are the LTECV and the LOM law for France, and at the European level, the European directive as well as the recent announcements of the European Commission, which will most certainly lead to a new decree.
Why do regulations keep changing?
When the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015 during COP21, 192 countries committed to reducing their carbon footprint to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. This was the first time that countries from around the world came together around an agreement recognizing the importance of greenhouse gas reductions. A great step forward in changing mindsets. And yet, we can see today that global warming is accelerating and that countries must increase their ambitions.
On March 20, 2023, the 6th IPCC report came out with a more pessimistic assessment than the previous report published one year earlier. In the line of fire, the global temperature has increased again, the vulnerability of ecosystems and populations is growing, and finally, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) are increasing. And it is clear that the impacts are going to intensify: extreme temperatures (+ and -), intensity of precipitation, severity of droughts, increase in frequency and intensity of rare climatic events, acceleration of the melting of permafrost, sea ice in the Arctic, mountain glaciers and ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica. In short, nothing to be happy about…
And yet, in this same report, there is a glimmer of hope: the various benefits of leaving fossil fuels were underestimated in the previous report (improvement of health, biodiversity, air quality…). It is clearly stated in this new report that stopping the use of fossil fuels (coal, fossil gas and oil) has an immediate impact on reducing GHGs and improving air quality. In other words, acting directly on the transport sector, a major emitter of CO2, can have a real influence on the climate and our health.
The latest IPCC report concludes that sustainable development for all is possible provided that policies to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions are implemented. This is what the IPCC calls “climate resilient development”, and also adds that “delaying adaptation actions and policies compromises their effectiveness, decreases their potential and increases their cost”. That says it all!
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The LTECV, precursor and visionary
The Energy Transition Law for Green Growth was published on January 11, 2017. Article 37 of this law promotes the development of clean transport through exemplarity and the obligation for certain actors to ensure the renewal of their fleets by low-emission vehicles. In summary, the law requires urban areas with more than 250,000 inhabitants, or those affected by an atmospheric protection plan (PPA), to purchase more than 50% of “clean buses” from 2020 onwards, with the aim of achieving 100% by 2025.
The idea is to eventually eliminate diesel-powered buses from current fleets. A strong commitment, certainly the most ambitious at European level at the time. This same law was reinforced and consolidated 2 years later in the Mobility Orientation Law.
The LOM law reinforces the decarbonization of transport
The Mobility Orientation Law (LOM) was enacted on December 24, 2019, with the aim of reforming the general framework of mobility policies. It allows, among other things, to better organize mobility services, and to align mobility policies with the reality of the territories and the priorities in terms of land use planning.
Among the various actions that make up the LOM, there is one that directly affects the reduction of CO2 emissions and the improvement of air quality: decarbonizing the land transport sector by 2050, by gradually renewing the entire French vehicle fleet with zero-emission vehicles. A series of targets for vehicle fleets is being set to accelerate change and transform the French fleet.
The LOM thus enhances the ambition expressed in the Law on Energy Transition for Green Growth (LTECV) to green the vehicle fleets managed by the State and local authorities to illustrate the exemplary nature of public actors.
European directive defines "clean vehicles
The European Directive (EU 2019/1161 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 amending Directive 2009/33/EC) on the promotion of clean and energy-efficient road transport vehicles sets targets for the greening of public light-duty vehicle, heavy-duty vehicle and public transport fleets until 2030. It is now called the “clean vehicles” directive. It was transposed into French law by an ordinance and four decrees on November 18, 2021.
This directive establishes a strict definition of clean vehicles, by reference to emission thresholds relating to CO2 and air pollutants hazardous to health. A table of “quotas” is also introduced: the directive sets minimum procurement targets for light commercial vehicles, heavy duty vehicles and buses for 2025 and 2030.
On Tuesday, February 14, the European executive made an important announcement, proposing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for all heavy vehicles (buses, trucks and coaches). This announcement includes the end of diesel or gasoline city buses by 2030. This is a much more ambitious goal than the European directive, since all city buses will have to run on zero emissions, either electric or hydrogen, by 2030 (Zero Emission Mobility). For coaches and trucks, the rule will not be the same to meet the demand for greater autonomy. The European Commission is therefore proposing several stages: 45% reduction in emissions from 2030, -65% in 2035, then -90% from 2040. All other heavy vehicles such as agricultural, military or fire service vehicles are excluded from this objective.
This new Commission proposal is now in the hands of MEPs and Member States, who will soon implement new actions, thus perfectly in line with the European objective of achieving climate neutrality by 2050.
How can AOMs be supported in the implementation of these laws?
It is clear that regulations are all accelerating in favor of zero-emission transport mobility, and it is notable that these same laws resonate perfectly with the strategy of SAFRA, an expert in decarbonized mobility.
By designing the first hydrogen bus manufactured in France in 2018, SAFRA has already shown itself to be a visionary of mobility. There was no question of working on another energy source, as zero emission would quickly become the only solution to fight against air pollution and CO2 emissions. Today, we see that regulations are all moving in this direction, and should even accelerate in light of the latest IPCC report.
Today, SAFRA is present throughout France with 23 hydrogen-powered vehicles, and the latest model, HYCITY®, is already receiving its first orders. Since 2022, the company has also developed a retrofit kit, under the H2-PACK® brand, which enables the diesel engine of the Mercedes Intouro model (intercity bus) to be transformed into hydrogen. Two concrete solutions that enable the company to support mobility authorities in the transformation of their fleets.
Accelerating the decarbonization of transport is the leitmotiv of the French company, which has every intention of becoming the reference player for public authorities to help them meet the challenge of sustainable mobility.
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