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Getting there together
The three main goals of Europe United’s transport policy are:
1) To allow the European Union to achieve our ambitious goal of zero net carbon dioxide emissions by 2070
2) To protect the economy of Europe from collapse in the possible event of soaring oil prices
3) To facilitate easy and efficient worker mobility throughout Europe.
Europe United believes that the European Union's role in transport should be reserved to the following areas. All other aspects of transport should be handled by Member States.
1. Facilitating cross-border transit through the standardisation of systems and the creation of suitable infrastructure at the pan-European level. National public and private infrastructure should remain the sole prerogative of Member States in all instances except where it hinders trans-border movement.
2. Management and policing of the EU-Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS) and its extension to cover transport and personal activity.
3. The development and promotion of green transport alternatives and best practice in the Member States. In this respect the Union must respect that Member States decide their own transport priorities within the framework of pan-European networks and the EU-ETS.
In order to achieve the first two goals we must substantially reduce our dependence on oil. In order to achieve the third it will be absolutely necessary to provide a low carbon alternative to air-travel. The only such alternative available today is high speed trains powered by electricity. An efficient and pan-European rail network must be established and this will only be possible once the EU itself becomes responsible for the running and improving of a pan-European railway infrastructure. Europe United believes that Europe's rail network will only be effective once it is organised and coordinated at EU level. We judge that rail transport between Member States and across Europe is one of those areas where it is more effective to work at the EU-level than just at Member State level.
Europe United pledges to reduce travel time between any two capital cities on mainland Europe by train to less than 24 hours. Since the distance from the bottom of Portugal to Finland is about 4800 km this means that our high speed rail network must run at least an average of 200 km/h. Europe United believes that this can be surpassed and that some services across Europe will manage an average speed of 320 km/h.
Furthermore, Maglev trains could be considered as an option for important cross-border long-distance connections between urban centres.
Besides trans-European high speed rail networks the individual national branches of Europe United strongly advocate increasing the number of electrified local lines throughout their respective countries. At present most of the lines were laid down in the steam period of rail transport. Since the capital cost of electrification is comparable to the capital cost of laying down rail, many services have not bothered and found it more profitable simply to keep on running the service using diesel. However, this will not reduce our dependence on oil for transport and it is vital for our future energy security that we make this undertaking for the generations that follow us.
Road transport is and will likely remain for some time the most important means of moving people and goods. While the building and maintenance of road networks is and should remain a task for member states, the improvement of the road network should be co-ordinated on a European level, especially for important cross-border roads to allow for a smooth flow of goods and passengers. Special importance and support should be given to finding solutions for areas with very high traffic density (like pass roads) and where the network of motorways is still incomplete.
EU-ETS and transport
Under the existing EU-Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS) governments allocate a number of carbon permits to 11,500 of the most carbon intensive industries throughout Europe. Transport is currently exempt from the scheme. Considering the sector is responsible for 25% of all CO2 emissions it is vital for the credibility of the EU emissions trading scheme that this sector be included.
Europe United also supports the ambitious goal of personalising the EU-ETS. Europe United believes that all private individuals should be included within the EU-ETS. This party wishes to see every mature private individual receive an equal number of carbon credits from the Member State they live in since all people are entitled to have an equal carbon footprint. People would then pay carbon credits out of their quota in accordance to how much gas, coal or petrol they purchase to meet their energy needs. The remainder of their credits may be sold on the CO2 market. Any citizen using more than their quota would need to purchase extra credits from the market. This would encourage people to think far more about their daily routine in order to reduce their own personal carbon footprint. Being a green individual would become profitable as one can sell the carbon credits one does not use. Being an individual polluter would become expensive since one would have to purchase extra carbon credits over the allocated quota.
A survey in the United Kingdom shows that 25% of the trips made in 1999/2001 were less than 2 miles. Such journeys could easily be done through good old fashioned foot and pedal power, which incidentally would help with our problems of rising obesity. Considering that 60% of the pollution created by automobile emissions happens in the first few minutes of operation - before pollution control devices can work effectively - the argument for avoiding such short trips by motorised transport is telling. With this in mind one realises the gravity of the situation and the need to encourage people to transport themselves with their own energy, both for their own benefit but also that of the planet. As such Europe United encourages people to consider alternatives for short trips to motorised transport.
Another measure that should be taken to reduce daily commuting is to enforce more rigorous town planning to make sure that most people are not more than a 20 minute walk away from shops, banks, post offices and other amenities that they regularly travel to. Internet shopping and teleworking should also be encouraged. The most efficient form of transport is ultimately less of it.
Cycling is the most efficient form of transport known to human kind in terms of total energy used per kilometre. It is also good for the health of the cyclist.
As such Europe United wishes to encourage Member States to seriously take into consideration the needs of the cyclist. Europe United believes that a substantial share of the total national budget spent on roads in a given Member State should be dedicated to the construction, maintenance and upgrading of cycle lanes and other bicycle related infrastructure. All bus stops and train station should have facilities for leaving bicycles, preferably sheltered from the rain to aid with rust prevention. In general Europe United wishes to see the bicycle play a far larger roll in the transport mix of Europe's future for short distance commuting.