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  • 30% car-CO2 cut becomes law after MEPs vote

    A deal to salvage something of the EU’s post-2015 strategy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from new cars has been agreed by MEPs. The European Parliament voted this week to approve the original 95 grams per kilometre limit, but by 2021, not 2020 as planned. T&E said the weakening of the Commission’s original proposals was ‘unnecessary’ and would create additional CO2 emissions, but it was still an acceptable deal overall.

    Europe’s first mandatory emissions limits for new cars, agreed in 2008, mean the average new car must emit no more than 130 g/km by 2015. In terms of fuel consumption, this equates to a little over 5 litres per 100km. But the agreement always envisaged at least a second phase, which was agreed as 95 g/km to come into effect in 2020. The details of how to achieve the 95g standard were agreed last June, but at the last minute the German government, under pressure from its premium carmakers BMW and Daimler, asked for the agreement to be renegotiated. It proposed that the 95g limit should come into effect in 2024.
    The final compromise rubberstamped by MEPs allows a one-year delay for 5% of a company’s vehicles, with 2021 now the date by which the average of all new cars must emit no more than 95 g/km (equating to around 4 l/100km). The Commission estimates that this will save 422 million tonnes of CO2 compared with the 130g limit in force from 2015. In terms of improved fuel efficiency, T&E calculates that the average driver will save €500 a year, money which is likely to be spent in ways that boost the EU economy and help job creation.
    T&E’s clean vehicles manager, Greg Archer, said: ‘This one-year delay to the car emissions law was an unnecessary weakening. Still, we can welcome this compromise because at least we have something to keep emissions-reduction technology improving, and the improvements will be worthwhile. It keeps Europe in the driving seat for reducing CO2 emissions from cars worldwide.’
    But there are other elements that worry environmental campaigners. The new regulation includes rules on ‘supercredits’ that allow carmakers to give greater weight in their overall average to electric vehicles, and thus allow electric vehicles to offset gas guzzlers. Concerns also remain about the testing procedures used to measure a vehicle’s emissions – there is evidence that the current test records emissions up to 30% less than what the same car emits on the road. The regulation approved by MEPs calls for a new test, as well as for a third limit for 2025.
    The EU’s climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said: ‘I’m glad a deal was sealed which maintains ambition, but the 95g target is achievable by employing technologies available today.’