[mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]Cars cost the European economy €78bn every year in oil imports. That is four times as much as we spent 10 years ago when the European Union agreed the target for new cars to emit an average of 120 grams of CO2 per kilometre. Oil is now much more expensive and we use more of it.
And, contrary to the claims of an industry that has an excellent record in overestimating the cost of environmental measures, the EU target leads to net benefits, not costs.
A recent study for the European Commission concluded that the average cost per car to meet the 120g/km standard would be €577. But fuel savings over the lifetime of the vehicle’s use would be worth almost twice that figure. Of course, it is also better to invest money in car technology innovation than burn it in millions of inefficient engines.
The car industry and now the European Commission advocate an “integrated approach” to reducing emissions; in other words shifting responsibility to other stakeholders. But these cost figures suggest that any measures outside of the realm of vehicle technology should be taken in addition to, rather than instead of, the existing EU target.
When the Commission set up a “high-level group” of industry executives to discuss car regulation back in January, the Financial Times commented: “Brussels . . . should not roll over [to industry], and certainly not on emission controls that are essential to health, climate stability and indeed to innovation”.
Unfortunately, it now looks as if that is exactly what has happened.
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