MEPs’ decision on SUVs emissions a ‘gift’ for car makers

December 21, 2006

T&E has accused MEPs of favouring the makers of sports utility vehicles at the cost of the rest of society.

[mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]The reaction came after the European Parliament approved a first-reading agreement on Euro-5 and Euro-6 standards for nitrogen oxides and fine particles. Despite strong lobbying by T&E and other environmental groups, the first-reading agreement had been expected, but there was a last-minute campaign to stop some of the worst polluting vehicles being given a three-year derogation.

The legislation sets standards for new cars and vans, but only from 2009 and 2012. They have been criticised by T&E for coming into effect much later than necessary, in particular Euro-6 standards, which will effectively mean vehicles made now for the American market will not be available in Europe until 2015.

With a compromise agreement on Euro-5 and -6 agreed among the political groupings, the environmental community was not confident of changing MEPs’ minds on the overall deal, but it did support an amendment by Green and some left-wing MEPs which attempted to overturn a three-year delay for SUVs to conform to the Euro-5 standards. The amendment was defeated, which means SUVs will not have to conform until 2012.

T&E director Jos Dings said: “With growing awareness in Europe of the environmental and safety dangers of SUVs, the decision to give these vehicles the same three-year exemptions as ambulances is a gift to SUV makers, and a kick in the teeth for the rest of society.”

The Euro-5 dossier produced the relatively rare situation of MEPs being more lenient on an environmental issue than ministers and officials. The Commission had originally proposed 2008 as the introduction date for Euro-5 standards; that was put back to 2009, and on SUVs, the 2012 date is a compromise as ministers wanted an earlier date while MEPs wanted the derogation to be even longer.

A spokesperson for the EU presidency said the Euro-5 and Euro-6 standards were “as tough as it was politically possible to agree”.

Though a boost for SUV makers, the concession might have a reverse effect if it encourages more European cities to ban SUVs and other heavily polluting vehicles.

Tax incentives for particle filters

The German cabinet has agreed tax incentives for owners fitting particle filters to existing diesel cars after considerable debate.

Cars with a retrofitted filter that cuts emissions to 5 mg/km will pay €330 less in annual motor tax, with non-equipped vehicles having a €20 penalty.

This news story is taken from the December 2006 edition of T&E Bulletin.