Alternative fuels charging: cities and regions ask for bigger role

21 June 2022

Transport, along with the building sector, accounts for 65% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. This is why encouraging a switch to zero-and low-emission vehicles is paramount to the EU vision for a pollution-free, healthier future.

But consumers will not opt for low-carbon cars and trucks unless they’ll be able to power them with ease. So for that transformation to take hold, the uptake in clean vehicles needs to be matched by an equal increase in recharging and refuelling facilities across the EU.

A bike passing near an electric charging station in Rotterdam.

The construction of well-functioning alternative fuels infrastructures – such as electric charging points or hydrogen refuelling stations – remains then a prerequisite in the transition to zero-emission transport, as set out by the European Green Deal.

City and regional authorities are already throwing all their weight behind this plan and making the decarbonisation of transport a priority.

In consideration of their crucial efforts, Eurocities, along with other networks and local authorities, is now calling on the EU to be granted a greater role and to take on different responsibilities.

The appeal comes as the European Parliament and national governments are considering the revision of the 2014 Alternative Fuels Infrastructure (AFIR) directive.

Masked person waiting for an e-bus meeting another person at the stop. Graphic representation of a city background.

In a joint letter published today, Eurocities, Polis and and CCRE-CEMR ask EU policymakers to revise the legislative act according to the following considerations:

  • Grant local authorities a greater involvement and decision-making power in the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure: cities should do more than just implement on the ground decisions mandated by national authorities, such as installing recharging and refuelling stations. With their long-standing experience about how to best distribute public space, “municipalities and regions are often best placed to identify the location of alternative fuels infrastructures to cater to drivers’ needs at the regional and local level,” the letter argues.
  • Avoid setting additional targets in urban areas: city and regional authorities are already tasked with implementing alternative fuels infrastructure plans that are decided at the national level. The possible addition of new EU targets “would  place an extra burden”  on local governments and hamper efforts for a strategic placement of recharging and refuelling points.
  • Acknowledge the impact of alternative fuels infrastructure on public space: the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure is likely to take away public space from road users, with especially negative consequences for vulnerable groups such as the elderly and people with disabilities. To avoid a competition for space, the appeal suggests that the directive’s revision should promote alternative solutions; for example, placing electric charging points in parking lots or  commercial buildings instead of on the street
  • Promote multimodality & shared mobility solutions: along with a well-functioning and widespread public transport infrastructure, the shift from private to shared mobility is crucial to achieving net-zero goals. Networks and local authorities ask that revisions to the directive boost the deployment of shared vehicles infrastructures and encourage users to embrace multi-mobility solutions (such as a combination of public transport and shared mobility).
  • Take into account territorial and regional specificities, notably area density: recharging and refuelling stations should be made available everywhere, including in urban and regional areas with a low population. Since the private sector is less likely to install alternative fuels points in locations with fewer people due to financial considerations, the letter encourages EU lawmakers to use public service obligations and positive incentives to ensure that infrastructures are deployed evenly and equitably.

Read the full letter: Alternative fuels regulation – bring local & regional actors on board