How to Decarbonise EU Road Transport without Summoning the Gilets Jaunes

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Publication Date May 2021
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The biggest obstacle to the decarbonisation of road transport is political: the costs of the shift will fall unevenly on different income groups and EU member-states, thus risking the growth of resentment. In reforming carbon pricing and energy taxation, the Commission should design these policies so that extra costs are shared in a way that citizens see as fair. People will need to experience positive changes, in the form of investments in expanded access to low-carbon transport options such as public transport, electric vehicles or bike schemes, before governments price them out of their fossil-fuelled vehicles as a prelude to banning them. Because of this urgency, it is important that governments strongly increase their investment in low-carbon transport now, while also taking advantage of the Recovery and Resilience Facility. Both EU and national policy-makers need to summon pedestrians, cyclists and electric vehicles onto the streets, while denying the gilets jaunes any excuse to join them.

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EPRS Study: Sept 2017: Research for TRAN Committee – Decarbonisation of EU transport
Cardiff EDC: May 2018: Europe on the Move: Commission undertakes third and final set of actions to modernise Europe’s transport system
European Commission: COM (2021) 400: EU Action Plan: ‘Towards Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil’

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