CO2 emissions target ‘feasible and affordable’

The EU’s commitment to having the average new car emit no more than 120 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre by 2012 must now be turned into a set of legally binding requirements for car makers.

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That is the message from a new T&E leaflet published this month. It has been produced to coincide with the EU’s next round of negotiations on CO2 emissions targets for the period after the existing “voluntary agreement” between the car makers and the EU ends in 2008. But it has been given further momentum by comments from the enterprise commissioner Günter Verheugen.

Verheugen was quoted in August as saying the 120 g/km target by 2012 was “impossible”. T&E attempted to confirm the quote was accurate, and received the following from the commissioner’s spokesperson: “Vice-President Verheugen indicated that CO2 emissions reductions would need to be achieved from a range of policies in the context of an integrated approach. He considers it unlikely that the 120g/km target can be reached from vehicle technology alone and believes that other stakeholders also need to contribute to achieving Community aims. An integrated approach could include for example fiscal incentives for fuels use, synchronised traffic (conges-tion), driver education, labeling, and consumer information etc.”

T&E policy officer Aat Peterse said: “This is almost word-for-word the language of the automotive industry, the industry which fought against mandatory standards in the past and secured a voluntary agreement instead. That agreement is not working, a weakened 140 g/km target will be missed, and scare stories that 120 g/km is impossible have to be countered if the EU is serious about its commitments to tackling climate change.”

“We understand the need for any industry to cooperate with Commission officials, but once that cooperation leads to the relevant commissioner becoming a de facto spokesperson for that industry, then the credibility of the EU decision-making process is seriously threatened.”

The leaflet sets out the history of the EU’s attempts to reduce CO2 emissions, and explains why the 120 g/km target by 2012 is not only essential from a climate perspective but technologically and financially feasible.

This news story is taken from the November 2005 edition of T&E Bulletin.