As Bulletin went to press, EU environment ministers were meeting to discuss the Commission’s proposals to force the average new van to emit no more than 175 grams per kilometre of carbon dioxide by 2016, and a long-term target for 2020 of 135g.
In a debate that looks set to mirror the battle over the EU’s frst mandatory CO2 emissions standards for new cars that were agreed in 2008, the vehicle manufacturers are saying the long-term target is too strong, especially for an industry that claims to have been badly hit by the economic downturn. Yet industry analysts and NGOs say the targets are achievable, as much of the technology used to reduce emissions from diesel cars is relevant to vans, and many leading van makers are already reducing emissions.
Ahead of the environment ministers’ meeting, T&E published figures showing emissions reductions since 2007 of up to 15% on some of the biggest selling van models.
T&E policy ofcer Kerstin Meyer said: ‘The car industry’s lobbyists said no to car CO2 standards, but the engineers proved them wrong. They said the proposed short term target for vans was ‘impossible’, but the industry is well on the way. They are now attacking the proposed long term target for vans – but based on past performance that claim is just not credible.’
One big diference between the car emissions debate and the one on vans is that the Commission personnel are different. The vans debate is likely to test the strong intentions of the new climate change commissioner Connie Hedegaard, who told MEPs in January that the EU needed to be ‘ambitious’ with vehicle makers.