On 24 January 2013, the European Commission proposed a package of measures aimed at reducing Europe’s reliance on oil and boosting the uptake of alternative fuels such as electricity, natural gas and hydrogen. Policy initiatives so far have mostly addressed the actual fuels and vehicles without considering fuel distribution.
This time, policy makers propose a mandatory roll-out of alternative fuel infrastructure, including numerical targets for Member States in terms of electric car charging stations, and obligatory natural gas refuelling points for ships. Leading environment journalist, Sonja van Renssen met Olivier Onidi, Director of Innovative and Sustainable Mobility at the European Commission’s DG MOVE, to discuss the alternative fuel strategy.
The interview is centred around six key themes, starting with a discussion of member states’ initial – not wholly positive – reaction to the proposal at a meeting of EU transport ministers on Monday 11 March. Onidi then explains the Commission’s rationale and room for manoeuvre on targets, that these must be mandatory, and why the Commission believes an alternative-fuel infrastructure roll-out will not require substantial public investment. He stresses that 2020 is the right time-frame for this policy initiative and warns that Europe risks lagging behind its major trade partners if it does not act quickly.
“We are convinced that in this context, the public hand will not need to provide a lot of support.”