Commission confirms car and van emissions limits for 2020

The European Commission has published proposals that will confirm carbon dioxide limits for new cars and vans for the year 2020 in a review of existing laws. The proposed legislation, released on 11 July, indicates that the average new car should emit no more than 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre, and the average new van 147 g/km by 2020. T&E has welcomed the proposals but says a lot more could have been achieved if the Commission had shown more ambition, for example by setting a target of 80g for 2020 and 60g for 2025.
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With average emissions from new cars at 136 g/km in 2011, the 95g target for 2020 would amount to a 30% reduction in nine years. By contrast, the target for vans is just 19% below the average of 181g recorded for 2010. The Commission’s proposals are the latest step in a process to reduce CO2 emissions from new vehicles that goes back to the early 1990s. Between 1999 and 2008, car makers worked to a voluntary target of 140g, but when it was clear this would not be met, agreement was reached for the first regulatory standards of 130g by 2015 for cars and 175g by 2017 for vans, adopted respectively in 2009 and 2011. That legislation also contained the 95g and 147g targets for 2020, but with a clause saying they should be reviewed before being confirmed.

The EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said: ‘With our proposals we are not only protecting the climate and saving consumers money. We are also boosting innovation and competitiveness in the European automotive industry, and we will create substantial numbers of jobs as a result. This is a clear win-win situation for everyone.’ The commissioner was joined in making the announcement by the chief executive of the European Consumers Organisation (BEUC), a gesture aimed at emphasising the extent to which the measure will enable consumers to benefit from significantly lower fuel bills.

The Commission’s statement also said the proposed targets were ‘achievable, economically sound and cost-effective: the technology is readily available, its cost is substantially lower than previously thought, and its implementation should boost employment and the economy, benefiting consumers and industry.’

T&E’s programme manager for clean vehicles, Greg Archer, said: ‘This is a sound proposal, but the benefits could have been even greater. A target of 80g for 2020 is feasible and affordable, and would save consumers €650 a year in fuel costs, as opposed to €500 a year on the proposed 95g target. Another benefit would be that an 80g target would keep the EU setting the standards globally, whereas the 95g target means the USA will be ahead of Europe by 2025, which is bad news for the competitiveness of Europe’s automotive industry. As a result, we hope the Commission will look seriously at a 60g target for 2025.'

T&E is also warning about a number of loopholes in the proposed legislation that will be bad for drivers and the environment, for example one that gives car makers fuel efficiency credits for more electric cars than they have sold in reality. An additional concern is that the proposal still rewards makers of heavier cars with more lenient CO2 targets, eliminating incentives to make cars lighter.

T&E policy officer William Todts said: ‘It’s clearly nonsense to set a target for vans that is so much less ambitious than for cars. If car makers have to develop technologies for cars, it is a real waste to not put them in vans but leave them on the shelf.'