Green vehicles are EU's win-win option

Powerful message to Europe’s politicians that building low-carbon cars and vans is the way to create a million jobs, boost the economy − and improve air quality

LONDON, 24 June − Europe will gain up to a million new jobs and reduce its dependence on foreign oil by supporting “green” technologies for cars and vans, and then building its own fleets of high efficiency, hybrid and electric vehicles, says a new report.

Far from it being too costly to embark on developing low-carbon vehicle options during an economic crisis, a consortium of companies contends that adopting the new technologies can only increase jobs, economic activity and wealth − as well as improving air quality and health.

The report, Fuelling Europe’s Future, was produced by Cambridge Econometrics − along with other independent energy and climate change consultancies − following a research project commissioned by the European Climate Foundation to assess the economic impact of decarbonising cars and vans.

Wide support

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the report is that it has the wide support of some of Europe’s biggest manufacturers, along with heavyweight trade union and environment groups. Rarely do these organisations agree on the core issue of transport.

At a time when Europe’s economy is in crisis, the report estimates that savings of between €58 billion and €83 billion a year in oil imports can be made by improving vehicle technology − in addition to creating jobs and new exports.

Among the organisations that reviewed and approved the report are Nissan, General Electric, the European Association of Automotive Suppliers and the European Aluminium Association.  All of them, and many other stakeholder groups, provide supporting testimony for the report.

The report says there have been concerns that the EU’s plans to cut transport emissions by 60% by 2050 would damage an automobile industry already in the doldrums because of the economic crisis.

There were uncertainties about which technology would emerge the winner from the current low-carbon options of hybrid, battery and fuel cell vehicles, but all of them offered more jobs, fuel import savings, and a healthier economy. There were also the fringe benefits of cleaner air and better health for European citizens.

Competitive advantage

Jobs created in building a new generation of vehicles are offset in the report against losses as the industry restructures to reduce over-capacity. Europe and Japan currently have the most demanding fuel efficiency targets in the world, and this gives them a competitive advantage when it comes to international markets, which are rapidly catching up.

The report says that, depending on how the various technologies develop, by 2030 there could be between 500,000 and one million net additional jobs, and another million by 2050.

Getting down to the cost to individual motorists of using advanced technology, the report calculates that the average cost of a vehicle will rise by around €1,000 by 2020, but the owner will save between €300 and €400 a year on fuel.

Olivier Paturet, general manager of electric vehicle strategy for Nissan Europe, said: “The accelerated market penetration of electric vehicles in Europe would result in a significant step being made towards a better urban air quality, creation of new jobs, and a stronger European economy.”

The global trade union group IndustriAll also endorsed the report. Wolf Jacklein, the group’s policy adviser, said: “From the workers’ perspective, it is important that this study shows that low-carbon technologies for motor vehicles offer the opportunity for new and additional jobs in this sector. Therefore, the current crisis should not become the pretext to slow down the transition, but should be an occasion for training workers and preparing the change.” – Climate News Network





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