More than 90 environmental and consumer groups have today appealed to the European Parliament not to accept sustainable finance rules that would allow logging and the burning of trees to be counted as green investments. In a public letter, groups such as Transport & Environment (T&E), WWF, Greenpeace, and BEUC call on the 705 MEPs to suspend scrutiny of the EU Commission’s taxonomy of green investments until other crucial pieces of legislation on bioenergy, gas, nuclear energy, and agriculture are disclosed later this year.
Intense lobbying by Sweden and Finland in particular led to the deletion of science-based criteria for forestry and bioenergy, the 91 groups write. As a result, indiscriminate logging and the burning of trees for energy would be greenwashed by the Delegated Act on sustainable finance that MEPs have been asked to approve by December.
William Todts, executive director at T&E, said: “This taxonomy will direct green finance to good things like solar and wind power generation and electric cars and trucks. But without safeguards, it will also open the door to destructive forestry practices and highly emitting biomass. MEPs should not let this pass until they can see the other green laws in the pipeline.”
Civil society is demanding that “nothing is agreed until all is agreed”, fearing that the Commission is trying to dilute the bad news across a number of legal measures rather than putting them to MEPs all at once. This is the first of three Delegated Acts that will list which activities can be marketed to investors as green.
MEPs should withhold their approval until the Commission says whether fossil gas power plants should be labeled sustainable – a decision delayed until a later Delegated Act. The Parliament should also wait for Commission proposals to revise key pieces of legislation that the taxonomy is based on. In July, the Commission will propose amendments to the laws on renewable energy (RED) and land use to make the bloc “fit for a 55%” reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Later in the year, new EU forest and biodiversity strategies will also be unveiled.
William Todts said: “The list is supposed to help combat climate change, but instead labels cargo ships burning bunker fuel and public buses running on fossil gas as green. A taxonomy that greenwashes the use of fossil gas will have no credibility in the eyes of consumers, civil society and investors. Parliament should suspend its approval until it can see the full picture.”
The Taxonomy Regulation determines which financial investments can be labeled environmentally sustainable. The actual list of environmentally sustainable activities is being drawn up by the Commission and is supposed to be based on recommendations by the expert group of NGOs, financial market companies and EU agencies. It must be approved by the European Parliament and governments before becoming law.
Download full report [PDF]: Letter: MEPs should block the EU’s “green” investments list – for now
Now that you’ve had time to digest the Cybertruck launch, would you buy one?
After Paris banned electric scooters, something surprising happened in the city
Paris raised eyebrows earlier this year when the city voted to ban shared electric scooters. While privately owned electric scooters were still allowed, the thousands of shared electric scooters that were commonly used by locals and tourists were forced to vacate the city, with unexpected results.
The idea for a shared electric scooter ban was originally floated late last year in response to the growing complaints by a vocal minority of citizens who objected to their widespread use around the city. Earlier this year, the referendum went up for a vote. Ultimately, the majority of voters on the day supported the proposed ban, though extremely low turnout meant that the measure passed despite garnering ‘yes’ votes from just 7% of registered voters in Paris.
Shared electric scooters were often seen as a way for commuters to avoid driving cars and for tourists to eschew rental vehicles in favor of smaller shared e-scooters. Because the scooters weren’t privately owned, they were ideal for both groups as an on-demand transportation solution.
At their peak, 15,000 electric scooters helped riders navigate the capital city.
While many predicted that a shared electric scooter ban could have a knee-jerk reaction to return to larger vehicles, a new study has shown that the effect may have bolstered dockless bike-sharing instead.
An interesting trend has emerged comparing September 2022 and October 2022 ridership levels of dockless bikes and scooters. The total number of rides has slightly decreased this year due to the expulsion of shared electric scooter companies. However, the number of dockless bike rides skyrocketed, more than doubling in just one year.
September 2022’s roughly 750,000 dockless bike trips became nearly 2 million trips in September 2023. Similarly, October 2022 saw a nearly identical jump in ridership.
The results seem to show that despite Paris banning shared electric scooters, Parisians still seek out and use shared mobility devices. Now, they appear to have merely shifted to shared bikes instead of shared scooters.
Less than a year after the shared electric scooter ban was enacted, a modal shift towards alternative shared mobility is clearly visible in the city.
Shared electric scooters are out, but shared micromobility seems to be going strong.
Whether Parisians will take a similarly hardline approach against a new growing ridership of dockless mobility devices has yet to be seen, but could also determine the fate of dockless bikes in the city.
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Chinese EV maker Nio to spin off battery unit: report
For years, Chinese EV maker Nio has essentially done it all, delving into high-end EV manufacturing, in-house batteries, autonomous driving, and chips, as well as innovative battery-swapping tech and even making smartphones, all while pulling in huge investments and talent to make that happen. Now, according to a new report, it’s looking to lighten the load.
As reported by Reuters, Nio now plans to spin off its battery unit in hopes of turning a profit, cutting costs, and improving efficiency – and offloading some of its ambitions to pursue end-to-end strategies in EV tech. The move could take place as early as the end of this month, after which the battery unit will seek outside investors, followed by a valuation, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke to Reuters.
Nio’s current battery unit is headed by senior engineers who worked previously at Apple and Panasonic. During last year’s earnings report, CEO William Li said that the battery team comprised 400 people researching battery materials, cells, and battery management systems. In terms of the new company, the top engineers will presumably join the spin-off, while other employees will be merged into Nio’s other divisions, the report said.
Nio brought on a team of engineers “to mass-produce large cylindrical batteries similar to the Tesla 4680 in a planned plant in China’s eastern Anhui province in 2025 at the earliest,” Reuters writes. In February, reports stated that the plant would have an annual capacity to produce 40 GWh of batteries to power about 400,000 long-range EVs.
Nio of course hasn’t been immune to market pressures on EV makers, with a reported third-quarter loss of 4.56 billion yuan ($637.06 million) on Tuesday, a 10.8% increase from the same period a year ago. CEO Li, who has not mentioned any plans for a spin-off, is focusing on reassuring investors that the company isn’t in over its head, saying that they’ll cut staff by 10% and defer long-term investors to save up to 2 billion yuan in costs this year.
Nio has also partnered with Geely and state-owned Changan Automobile to develop EVs capable of battery swaps, making Nio the only passenger vehicle manufacturer advancing this potential. Nio, which already sells in Europe, is also looking to build a dealer network in the region to accelerate sales. It also has targeted 2025 as a goal for expanding to the US – no small ambition.
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