Low carbon economy: A holistic sectoral approach
By David Bell (*) | Wednesday 21 March 2012
On 15 March, the European Parliament approved in plenary a report by MEP Chris Davies (ALDE, UK) on a ‘Road map for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050’.
The construction equipment industry, represented in Brussels by CECE (Committee for European Construction Equipment -
www.cece.eu), welcomes this report as a significant step in the right direction. CECE brings together construction machinery manufacturers from 14 different countries with a total turnover in Europe of €23 billion.
The report is calling for the preparation of national and sector-specific road maps that will set out how EU low-carbon objectives can best be met, and calls on member states and the Commission to set up the right incentives for this.
We believe construction should be considered as one of these sectors, and therefore construction equipment should play a role in it.
Construction machinery users are key contributors to a globally competitive and sustainable business sector. Fuel is one of the most significant input costs for our users. That is why through continuous innovation we have achieved substantial reductions in CO
2 emissions and the competitive nature of our market will continue to drive innovations and ongoing reductions in CO
However, we need to warn the legislator on the risks of focusing on one or other specific aspect of a product or a technology, as this kind of approach will not bring the benefits expected.
Our industry has to balance fuel used to the amount of work done, so unlike the car industry we cannot simply reduce our engine sizes.
The Commission and the member states should therefore favour the development of sector-specific road maps taking into account all factors influencing energy efficiency. In our case, this means considering the process in which a product is used, the use of it, the operator and the use of alternative energy sources and systems.
The report has some specific points about making fuel efficiency clearer to purchasers of vehicles. Although in the report specifically the cars and freight sectors are referred to, this is an area that we also see high relevance for our sector.
Finally, the report mentions the importance of R&D for the development of low-emission and energy-efficient technologies and the availability of funds to support the R&D efforts. We welcome the approach and hope that parts are available for developing appropriate technology for mobile machines.
In summary, CECE members are already working on concrete solutions to reduce CO
2 emissions and some ideas put forward in this report are in line with the general direction we are adopting.
It is very rare we find a case where the market drives us in a direction that is good for both the environment and the industry. When it happens, everybody should understand there is no reason to interfere in this process. We believe that this is one of those cases.
David Bell is chief corporate development officer at JC Bamford Excavators Ltd and chair of the CECE high-level technical advisory group
Mario Pirillo (S&D, Italy), ITRE rapporteur
“I understand the concerns the industry might have regarding the ambitious objectives defined in the road map, which will require efforts and investments for decreasing CO
2 reduction. However, we should not forget where the emissions’ quantity headed us in the past and how much it impacted the environment.
“We need therefore to change our approach and look at the European policies from another viewpoint: not as a burden but as an opportunity for ensuring competitive and modern growth.
“We need to rethink the production system and the socio-economic patterns. In order to achieve the road map objectives we will need to define measurable and concrete deliverables for each sector while establishing at the same time a trustworthy environment, so that industry can be incentivised to invest its R&D in this type of technology.
“During the last ten years the construction equipment sector has demonstrated that it could decrease its emissions. It is clear that the crisis has hit the sector very hard and sales and turnover have dropped significantly. It is therefore evident that we will need to take into due account the situation of the market and the existing technological possibilities before defining any sectorial targets for this industry.”