Climate initiative Taxis4SmartCities presses the ‘reset button’ in Brussels

Climate initiative Taxis4SmartCities presses the ‘reset button’ in Brussels

It was (and is) a bold initiative to forge a coalition of 14 taxi companies to keep the taxi sector at the forefront when it comes to climate improvement. The 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris changed the programme, otherwise the joint taxi sector would have made a demonstrative ride on the Champs-Elysées at the end of the 2015 Paris COP21 climate conference. With a meeting in the European Parliament on 27 November, initiator Yann Ricordel (G7) resolutely pressed the reset button.

“It is positive that the taxi sector is now being heard well before the European elections,” MEP Markus Pieper (EPP) said. “I have a special contact with the sector, because I used to pay for my studies as a student by working as a taxi driver.” Unfortunately, the MEP, which specializes in climate developments, did not have that much affinity with the taxi company to deepen his contribution as chairman and gladly left the introduction to Yann Ricordel. At the time of the 2015 initiative, he was CEO of the second Parisian taxi company Taxis Bleus, now part of G7. Meanwhile, Ricordel is responsible for innovation and marketing at the largest Paris taxi radio circuit in the City of Light, G7.

Ricordel’s ambitious initiative, which was prominently and emphatically supported in 2015 by prominent French politicians, has already been restarted. After COP21, 14 (large) taxi companies (meanwhile 23) from 10 European countries and Canada on 14 April 2016 signed a solemn charter during a meeting in Paris, promising to drastically reduce their climate footprint (see box) in 8, 4 or 2 years (benchmarks 2020 and 2030 – see below).

How many companies of the original group are left is unclear, but the Amsterdam taxi radio circuit TCA is no longer a member. There are probably still some other companies in Europe that found the project too expensive and (in practice) too difficult to implement. Some of them set up their own local projects.

As a public relations initiative, the Taxis4SmartCities initiative was more than successful. It put the taxi sector, which was often invisible politically, on the international climate scene. That was partly thanks to Ricordel’s political connections. In the meantime, the group – as one of the approximately 8 ‘taxi lobby groups’ on the EU scene – also rivals organizations such as the IRU and TEA – with a Brussels secretariat and representative.

Yann Ricordel, who again invited his European colleagues to join his climate initiative in the spring of 2016, announced that “the taxi sector is ready to be a pioneer in the reduction of greenhouse gases.” We are a modern, innovative and also very ambitious industry and we want to see tomorrow’s taxi as an environmentally friendly form of transport.”

He then added that “cities around the world are focused on reducing CO2 pollution. This cannot be done without the taxi sector, which has its workplace in the city center. We like to work with our local authorities and also want to share our findings with them when our taxi initiative takes shape. ”

A few weeks ago, on 27 November, Ricordel repeated this view in the European Parliament, but immediately added a series of new objectives. As a supplement to public transport, taxi companies must play a role together with the cities as technical innovators, as local suppliers of data and as facilitators of accessibility. He warned that all cities do want to reduce car use, but that ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft do not only provide an increase in mobility worldwide, but especially congestion in inner cities. They are an important factor in that. ”

In Brussels, Ricordel underlined that, in addition to the original purpose of Taxis4SmartCities – to contribute to reducing greenhouse gases – the group is not only focusing on purchasing climate-friendly vehicles, supporting taxi drivers and promoting eco-friendly driving style through training, but also on promoting smart mobility by supporting systems such as Mobility-as-a-Service. “Moreover, especially in the run-up to the European elections, we see a chance to give the taxi a more positive image with the European institutions. We would like to work with the Commission and the European Parliament to find solutions to climate problems – such as encouraging low-emission areas similar to London’s, encouraging the installation of sufficient charging equipment for electric taxis, stimulating the purchase of new and cleaner vehicles and driving on biogas – but we also see our role broader.”

“In this collaboration, the taxi sector must be able to count on a level playing field at European level when it comes to regulating the taxi business and in other aspects (such as the exchange of data).” Ricordel sees the role of Taxis4SmartCities considerably broader than that of a pure climate initiative. That is no wonder, because old and new Brussels taxi lobbyists have hardly been able to make a lasting impression when it comes to influencing the EU institutions in a taxi-positive direction. Taxis4SmartCities hopes to have at least one representative in every European country, to be able to play an important role on the European stage.

(© 2018 TaxiIntelligence).

  • Ricordel: “The taxi sector is ready to be a pioneer in the reduction of greenhouse gases.”

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