The CountEmissionsEU (CEE) initiative to standardise emissions reporting by transport providers will almost certainly fail to be adopted before elections for the European Parliament in June 2024, the Global Business Travel Association has told BTN Europe.
GBTA senior vice president for sustainability and advocacy Delphine Millot said she and colleagues were warned of the delay during a meeting in Brussels earlier this month with the cabinet of European transport commissioner Adina Vălean. “This means everything is pushed back almost by a year,” said Millot.
The European Commission presented its final proposal for CEE in July, but adoption needs to be approved by both the European Parliament and the Council of the EU representing member states. Passage of the regulation through the European Parliament has been complicated by its transport committee, which was leading the process, deciding it needed to adopt a common position with the environment committee.
“Maybe they’re going to manage the first reading before the EU elections in June but, even if they do that, normally you need a second reading to ensure the European Parliament and Council positions are aligned, and this won’t happen in time,” said Millot.
The delay even raises the possibility of CEE not being adopted at all. According to Millot, at least 40 per cent of the new parliament are expected to be new members “who will start negotiating this again”. There is speculation that the new parliament will be more Eurosceptic and less progressive on climate issues than its predecessor.
Since consultations were launched in 2021, the corporate travel sector has been hoping CEE will address its perennial frustration of inconsistent reporting. According to the Commission, such inconsistency is “hindering the overall effectiveness of greenhouse gas accounting as a policy tool to incentivise environmentally friendly business and consumer choices for transport/mobility.”
The Commission said in its July proposal that it intends to base CEE on ISO 14083:2023, an emissions calculation methodology ratified by the European Committee for Standardisation in March 2023. ISO 14083 assesses emissions based on the entire “well-to-wheel” life cycle of the fuel being used. It also enables both pre-trip estimates and post-trip actual reporting, according to Millot.
Although the CEE proposal overall has attracted criticism from travel management association lobbying group Business Travel 4 Europe, Millot said GBTA has consulted travel industry sustainability experts about ISO 14083 and found “no red flags” with it. She added: “Stakeholders can rally around the new ISO standard as the go-to methodology to calculate emissions from all modes of transport.”
The July proposal makes disclosure of emissions by transport providers voluntary but, if providers do disclose, they are obliged to follow the CEE framework. The regulation also requires providers of external calculation tools to be certified under CEE.
A delay to CEE will not help companies as they prepare to report their business and commuter travel emissions under the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), being phased in from January 2024.
While CEE addresses emissions reporting by transport operators and CSRD addresses, among other reporting requirements, consumption of travel by corporations, Millot says CEE “is relevant because companies are reporting the data they receive from the operators. It’s a convergence effect. Once CEE is adopted, this could get referenced in the reporting standards as a way of making it clearer that this is the go-to methodology.”
At the GBTA Europe/VDR annual conference in Hamburg last week, Charles Feld, director of GBTA’s retained public affairs consultancy Grayling Brussels, addressed the question of CSRD requirements, which include the auditing of reported data. Feld said the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group, overseer of the European Sustainability Reporting Standards with which CSRD declarations must conform, will issue more guidance in the next couple of months that could clarify what is expected for travel emissions disclosures.
However, Feld told his audience that the Commission is likely not to hold companies too rigidly to account over the methodology they use initially for reporting. “They know this is huge in terms of compliance, so they will be lenient for the first couple of years,” he said.
Both Feld and Millot said there are also now major doubts over whether the EU will adopt the Multimodal Digital Mobility Services (MDMS) legal framework, which could improve access to rail content for indirect distribution channels, before the parliamentary elections.