‘A weak cars CO2 deal better than no deal’

EU member states have accepted a proposal that weakens the proposed legislation to limit carbon dioxide emissions from new cars from 2020. Following heavy lobbying by the German car industry, the 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre target for 2020 was effectively watered down by another 5 grams. T&E says the weakening will mean an increase in fuel bills of €775 over the lifetime of the average car.

The limit for 2020, the EU’s latest legislation on reducing CO2 from new cars, was agreed in 2008, but how this standard was to be achieved was not agreed until June of this year. Yet when it came to ratifying this agreement, the German government pushed for it to be renegotiated. T&E described this lobbying as ‘an abuse of the EU legislative process to protect German luxury carmakers’.

At one stage Germany was asking for the 95g limit not to apply until 2024, but in a ‘trialogue’ meeting of MEPs, EU governments and Commission officials earlier this month, a compromise was agreed under which 95% instead of all new car sales will have to comply with the 95g target by 2020. It also has more flexible arrangements for so-called ‘supercredits’, which give extra rewards for electric cars sold between 2020 and 2022, at the expense of reductions across the fleet. This has now been ratified by member states.

T&E’s clean cars programme manager Greg Archer said: ‘It is outrageous that EU countries, prompted by Merkel’s government, bent to the interests of luxury German carmakers at the expense of the environment, jobs and the wider economy. But it’s a hollow victory for Germany and its carmakers. The political cost of such heavy-handed lobbying is huge and people will rightly ask after this episode whether German luxury carmakers are really technology leaders.’

‘Fuel economy standards are Europe’s single most effective policy to drive down fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The outcome of this law could have been so much better, but at least we can now start talking about the future. Europe should stay ahead in the race for efficient vehicles, so now we need an ambitious target for 2025, and fuel efficiency standards for trucks too.’

The concessions will mean an estimated 50 million tonnes of extra CO2 emissions, compared with the deal agreed in June, and increased costs for motorists estimated at €775 in additional fuel over the life of the average vehicle. It will also mean the EU will have to import an extra €25 billion worth of oil.