Electrification and ambitious CO2 standards for Europe's cars are key to decarbonising transport – the sector that needs to do the heavy lifting to meet the Paris climate targets.
The European Parliament will vote next week on whether to strengthen the proposal for Europe’s key climate law, the so-called Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) – or ‘Climate Action Regulation’, the name agreed by the environment committee. MEPs will be asked to back a more ambitious starting point than the European Commission’s proposal and to close some loopholes to ensure member states actually reduce their emissions.
New cars consume on average 42% more fuel on the road than advertised in sales brochures, according to T&E’s latest Mind the Gap report. Despite auto industry claims of their vehicles’ ever-improving fuel economy, the gap between real-world fuel consumption and official figures has grown from 28% in 2012 and 14% a decade ago.
The continued use of high-emitting biofuels to power Europe’s cars and trucks is up for decision in the European Parliament next week. In deciding the Parliament’s position on reform of the Renewable Energy Directive, MEPs will be asked whether European drivers should be obliged to burn massive quantities of food crops in their fuel tanks until 2030.
Transport has taken over from power generation as the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US – and the situation is likely to get worse as the Trump administration plans to weaken emissions standards. T&E says the policy will only damage US carmakers. Transport has been the single biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in Europe since 2016.
Sales of battery electric vehicles in Europe are expected to rise from around 126,000 to 200,000 this year, according to forecasts from the car industry. The figures indicate a growing realisation by carmakers that they need to engage with electric vehicle technology to meet emissions standards.
National governments and MEPs have reached a provisional deal on Europe’s key climate law which will cover about 60% of the Europe’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The Effort Sharing Regulation, now renamed the Climate Action Regulation, provides flexibilities and loopholes that could see Europe miss its 2030 target. The law sets binding national emission reduction targets for the 2021-2030 period for sectors not covered in the emissions trading system, mainly: road transport, buildings, agriculture and waste.
Europe’s only government that does not tax diesel fuel more favourably than petrol has gone a step further by increasing tax on diesel engine cars while leaving it unaltered for petrol cars. In his annual budget speech, the British chancellor of the exchequer (finance minister) said new diesels that failed to pass the strictest emissions tests would pay more tax each year. T&E said the announcement was more important for its symbolism than its financial impact.
T&E’s German member DUH has won a historic victory over Volkswagen (VW) in the German courts. The judgement grants DUH (German Environmental Assistance) the right to criticise VW’s emissions data and make related statements after the carmaker had tried to silence DUH. The court said the freedom to express an opinion takes precedence over the economic interests of a company.
A long-awaited proposal to decarbonise EU cars and vans was met with disappointment last month – except among European carmakers who could barely conceal their satisfaction at an early Christmas present. The European Commission was roundly criticised for presenting a zero-emissions vehicle target with no penalty for non-compliance and an unambitious set of CO2 reduction targets.