EU member states ‘are not leveraging the potential of cycling’ to tackle climate issues, report finds

A new report by the European Cyclists’ Federation highlights the shortcomings of the latest National Energy and Climate Plans submitted by EU member states

Clock03:26, Wednesday 22nd May 2024
The ECF believes member states need to harness the power of cycling more in their National Energy and Climate Plans

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The ECF believes member states need to harness the power of cycling more in their National Energy and Climate Plans

The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) has criticised EU member states for failing to leverage “the potential of cycling to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions” in their latest National Energy and Climate Plans.

Adopted by the European Union (EU) in 2019 as a part of its Clean energy for all Europeans package, National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) lay out how member states will address certain issues, including decarbonisation and energy efficiency.

The first generation of NECPs were submitted by member states in 2019, before updated drafts were submitted in 2023, but the latest drafts have failed to develop the role of cycling in tackling climate problems, according to a report developed by the ECF.

The report judges the role of cycling in NECPs against 13 indicators, each of which receives a certain amount of points if met. These points are then accumulated into a score. On average, member states scored 4.63 out of 10, which the ECF rates as ‘moderate’. However, it represents only a slight increase on the average 4.35 rating reached by the original NECP drafts submitted in 2019.

Despite what the ECF believes is only a “slight improvement”, the majority of NECPs mention cycling in some way, with Latvia being the only outlier - Austria’s wasn’t assessed as its NECP hadn’t been submitted when the report was produced. Of the remaining 25 states, only Belgium, France and Italy reached the ECF’s highest ‘excellent’ rating, with Belgium recording the highest score of 9.

The rating for the majority of states improved, barring for Luxembourg, Finland, and Slovenia.

Read more: Cycling at COP28: Still a novelty act but 'the needle is moving'

The findings come amid the EU’s continuing goal to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and ECF CEO Jill Warren believes cycling must be a “cornerstone” of that process.

“As the most energy-efficient mode of transport, cycling must be a cornerstone of climate and energy policies,” Warren said in a press release.

“The recently adopted European Declaration on Cycling highlights cycling as a sustainable, healthy, and efficient means of transport. As a strategic compass, it underscores the importance of integrating cycling into current and future policies to fully harness its potential in decarbonising the transport sector.”

Read more: European Union aims to ‘unleash the full potential of cycling’ through ‘historic’ declaration

The ECF has reiterated that the report only highlights the shortcomings of the NECPs, not general cycling policies at national or EU level, and the Belgium-based advocacy group has recently praised the EU for implementing the new European Declaration on Cycling as a “historic milestone”.

It is designed to “unleash the full potential of cycling” through 36 commitments and eight core principles and, while it doesn’t enforce any laws or legislation, is the first inter-institutional policy submitted at European level.

“This Declaration recognises cycling as one of the most sustainable, accessible and inclusive, low-cost and healthy forms of transport and recreation, and its key importance for European society and the economy,” the declaration states.

Explore the ECF’s full report on NECPs here.

Keep up to date with the latest cycling news on the GCN website.

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