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Climate change: What are the regions doing?

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The 2015 edition of EUobserver's Regions & Cities magazine focuses on climate change and what cities and regions are doing.

Electric cars still have

Electric cars still have long road ahead Only slightly more than a percentage point of new car sales in the EU are electric. By Peter Teffer With the exception of a handful of Northern European countries, electric cars are still a rarity in the EU. Non-EU member Norway leads the way, thanks to tax breaks for electric vehicles. In 2014, almost 6 percent of new cars that were sold were all-electric vehicles. When this includes hybrid cars, the share is even higher at 13.8 percent. But when looking at European Union figures, hybrid-electric cars made up only 1.4 percent of new car sales in 2013. In its Energy Union strategy paper, published earlier this year, the European Commission said the “electrification” of the continent’s transport is needed to become less dependent on oil, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “Europe needs to speed up [the] electrification of its car fleet and other means of transport and become a leader in electro-mobility and energy storage technologies”, the paper noted. Recently 400 BMW i3 electric cars were added to DriveNow’s carsharing fleet in Copenhagen. Photo: Juhan Sonin 34 ––––– EUobserver Magazine 2015

CHICKEN-AND-EGG PROBLEM Growth of the electric vehicle market, which still makes up a tiny proportion of the European fleet, is fickle. While 2014 saw 36.6 percent more electric vehicles registered compared to the year before, it also saw a 7.7 percent drop in the fourth quarter compared to Q4 in 2013. But there are signs of optimism for the electric market, which needs to overcome a chicken-and-egg problem. Electric vehicles can only be an attractive alternative to petrol or diesel-powered cars, if the necessary infrastructure is there. In July, the European Commission decided to allow the Netherlands to provide almost €33 million of public funding to install and operate electric cars’ charging stations. “The Dutch public support scheme approved today will help make electric cars a viable alternative [for] citizens in the Netherlands by providing the necessary infrastructure, whilst keeping costs under control in line with EU state aid rules”, said competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager. ELECTRIC LONDON BUSES Some local governments have also started to pave the way by advocating electric vehicles in their public transport fleet. London recently ordered 51 electric buses, a few months after the city government of Amsterdam announced its buses will be emission-free by 2026. Copenhagen will have a car-sharing service coming with electric cars. But perhaps the biggest boost comes in the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal, which saw millions of diesel cars being fitted out with software that cheated emissions tests. Elon Musk, head of electric car company Tesla, said the scandal showed “we’ve reached the limit of what’s possible with diesel and gasoline. So the time, I think, has come to move to a new generation of technology.” Musk probably means the technology he sells. Public fast-charging stations in Denmark will be located near local supermarkets. Photo: Clever EUobserver Magazine 2015 ––––– 35

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