CO2 emissions

More ambitious CO2 reduction targets for carmakers will be crucial if the last polluting cars are to be off the road by mid-century.

Latest publications

Following the 2020/21 95 g/km target set in 2014, the EU governments and Parliament agreed in late 2018 the next set of CO2 standards for new cars in Europe. Carmakers will have to reduce the average emissions of their new car sales by 15% in 2025 (from 2021 levels) and by 37.5% from 2030 onwards. In addition, voluntary sales targets for low and zero emission cars are set at 15% in 2025 and 35% in 2030 to incentivise timely investment.

Real-world tests

The biggest problem with EU car CO2 standards remains the test cycles on which the emissions are measured. While the obsolete old cycle was replaced by the new World-Light Duty test procedure in 2018, the gap between what carmakers certify in tests and what cars emit on the road risks continuing in the absence of additional measures. The 2025/2030 CO2 standards do require real-world CO2 emissions to be measured using in-car fuel consumption meters, but this remains voluntary at least until the review of the standards foreseen for 2023. 

T&E is leading a campaign together with German NGO Deutsche Umwelthilfe to address the gap between official (certified) and real-world fuel consumption figures of cars (currently 42%). Started in 2016, the ‘Get Real – Demand Fuel Figures you can trust’ campaign (Supported by the LIFE program of the EU Commission (LIFE15 GIC/DE/00029, Close the gap) has been raising citizens’ and policy-makers’ awareness on this issue.

Key statistics

EU total road transport emissions (2019)22% (one-fifth) of EU’s overall greenhouse gas emissions
Cars & Vans
Share of emissions from cars & vans (2019)16% of EU’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, or 72% of EU road transport emissions

CO2 limits for new cars:

95g CO2/km by 2021

EU policies to decarbonise cars15% CO2 reductions for 2025 and 37.5% reduction for 2030 

Note: the average CO2 emissions from the new car fleet in 2019 were 122 gCO2/km

CO2 limits translated into fuel consumption130g = 5.6 litres/100km (petrol)

95g = 4.1 litres/100km (petrol)

Cost saving of a 95 gCO2/km car for the average driverAround €250 a year, based on today’s pump prices and compared to 2015 CO2 target.
European oil importsIn 2015 the EU imported oil equivalent to €215 billion – two-thirds of it for transport.
Car production in the EU (2019)15.8m cars
Car registration in Europe (2019)15.3m cars
EV registrations in the EU (2020)1,045,000 units

Relevant publications

Read the publications about car CO2 emissions