Labourers continue to work at a construction site in Valencia on March 26, 2020 despite a national … [+]
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Six industry associations representing the non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) sector called on the EU to postpone the deadlines for emission limits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their request should be considered carefully, as a delay in the implementation of the NRMM regulation may pose a risk to climate targets.
CECE, CEMA, EGMF, EUnited Municipal Equipment & Cleaning, Europgen and FEM sent a joint letter to the European Commission asking for a moratorium on the application of 2020 and 2021 deadlines.
According to the European regulation, machine manufacturers have until June 30 this year to complete the production of engines in power ranges <56kW and ≥130kW complying with the emissions’ limits. Then, they’ll have until December 31 to place these machines on the EU market. Similarly, machines in power ranges from 56kW to 130kW will need to be ready in summer 2021.
“The co-signatories point out that the COVID-19 outbreak is causing complete interruptions of supply of parts and components,” the associations wrote. “Without essential parts like tyres, axles, hydraulics, lighting & electronic equipment, manufacturers are effectively prevented from completing the construction of the machines by the imposed deadlines. As a result, they will not be able to place the machines on the market with the transition engines they had already acquired. Since it will no longer be possible to use them, these engines will have to be scrapped, which will lead to avoidable economic damage and unnecessary waste of raw materials and resources.”
After the next climate conference COP26 was postponed last week in an effort to protect people’s health, executive vice-president Frans Timmermans said climate targets will stand high.
Although the pandemic has been forcing many to stop and an economic crisis is envisaged, experts claim it should not be an excuse to reduce ambitions.
Environmental NGO Bellona Europa is asking the Commission to limit any delay in the NRMM regulation by a maximum of six months and to keep climate into consideration. This would mean including CO2 in the text, which currently only aims at reducing air pollutants’ emissions (not carbon) by 95%.
“In these difficult times, it is clear that the overall economy is facing immediate issues,” Bellona’s policy advisor Mark Preston Aragonès said. “However, climate change is an urgent and long term problem which needs massive action and investment. Any recovery plan must bear this in mind if it is to be successful.”
If anything, the present situation can be an impulse to diversify investments and focus on decarbonization. The construction sector is already changing, with companies that decide to go green showing the way.
An example is the international construction and consultancy company Mace, who has announced that it will achieve net zero carbon emissions in 2020. “It is imperative that the construction industry finds ways to lower carbon emissions when constructing, operating and repurposing buildings,” Mark Reynolds, group chief executive at Mace, told Forbes.com. “We have a responsibility to protect the planet and our environment, and building sustainably is an urgent step in addressing climate change. Mace’s High-Rise Solutions is an innovative and sustainable approach to construction – building homes quicker, cutting waste and carbon emissions. This is one of the ways we’re innovating to reduce our carbon footprint, leading change across the construction sector.”
Not only private companies, but local authorities also play an important role by deploying electric NRMM engines. Helsinki, Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam and Vienna are already working on such programs.
Emissions from electric equipment are approximately 40% lower than diesel machinery over its lifetime. Other potential advantages of greening the construction sector include lower exposure to air pollution for construction workers, less noise, lower operational and maintenance costs.
“In the context of the European Green Deal, electrification offers a huge opportunity for the construction industry to positively contribute towards Europe’s transition to a sustainable economy,” said Preston Aragonès. “European equipment manufacturers should take note of this window of opportunity to be global leaders in a sector which will inevitably need to decarbonize.”