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Cars climate brief #1:Why CO2 from new cars could drop by only 2% by 2029

This brief is the first of a series of short analytical pieces in which T&E will share fresh insights related to the revision of the car CO₂ standards. The current EU-wide car CO₂ targets are not bad on paper: they require a reduction in CO₂ emissions from new cars of 15% from 2025, and 37.5% from 2030 compared to 2021. Yet, a deeper look at the design of the regulation shows that as little as a 2% cut can actually be required between 2025 and 2029, or in the next decade. To begin with, carmakers who choose to ignore the voluntary electric car sales benchmark merely need to reduce their emissions by 6% instead of 15%. This is due to three flexibilities: CO₂ allowance for heavier vehicles shaves off 2 percentage points (pp); Allowance for eco-innovations shaves off a further 2 pp; and The transition to a new test opens the door for another 5 pp to be knocked off. Then, for carmakers who overshoot the rather unambitious EV sales benchmark, a further 5 pp is reduced via what is known as the “ZLEV bonus”. Read this short brief to understand how the 15% reduction on paper becomes a mere 2% effective reduction.

New EU car emission tests not enough to stop carmakers’ cheating

The new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), designed to improve car CO2 emissions testing in the laboratory, does not bring credible results and on its own will not stop carmaker manipulation of tests, a new report by Transport & Environment (T&E) shows. The report exposes the difficulties for independent testers when checking CO2 emissions from cars as key data remains secret.

Significant moves towards reliable fuel data

The procedure for recording the polluting and climate-changing impact of a new car once it gets on the road has become more accurate, with the entry into force of two new emissions tests that replace the discredited NEDC test. The milestone comes as a new award-winning test protocol by Peugeot-Citroën with T&E and two other partners promises even greater accuracy in the future.

Results from new car emissions tests too unreliable to base taxes on

The new car CO2 emissions test is producing unreliable results making it unfit for setting vehicle taxes at the moment, new data analysed by Transport & Environment (T&E) shows. This supports the European Commission’s evidence last year that carmakers are manipulating the new WLTP test to make their emissions look worse until 2021 and thus make CO2 reduction targets in 2025 easier to comply with. Governments should hold back on basing taxes on the new test and instead prepare a more comprehensive overhaul of vehicle taxation that accelerates the uptake of electric cars, T&E said.[1]

Carmakers’ hands tied as EU agrees CO2 targets will be based on new test

CO2 targets for 2021 for new cars will be based on an improved test, the WLTP (Worldwide harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure), after a decision today by the European Council and the European Commission. Sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) welcomes the decision as the conversion methodology will limit how much carmakers can manipulate tests to meet 2021 CO2 limits for new cars.

What does the Commission’s car emissions proposal mean for the climate and the auto industry?

The recent European Commission proposal on CO2 regulations for cars and vans to 2030 has provided the car industry with an early christmas gift. The unambitious 3%pa improvement rate and removal of a binding sales target for zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) followed last minute lobbying by carmakers. With Vice President Sefcovic, and the architects of the package Commissioners Cañete, Bulc and Bienkowksa all aligned in favour of a system of credits and, crucially, debits for carmakers that exceeded or breached a ZEV sales target, the package was virtually finalised before a last-minute intervention diluted the proposal.

Can Google, Uber, BlaBlaCar and Zipcar make mobility cleaner?

Transport is not the most innovative of sectors so when the top people of Uber, Google, Nokia, Zipcar and BlaBlaCar got together at the International Transport Forum in Leipzig last week, there was an air of excitement. The picture they painted was of a radically different transport system, revolutionized by the internet, mobile phones and autonomous, electric driving. What this could mean for people was captured well by Philippe Crist from the OECD. He estimates the advent of the digital age could reduce the number of cars by an eye-popping 90% in urban areas.

Ending the cheating and collusion: Using real-world CO2 measurements within the post-2020 CO 2 standards

The biggest failure of the current regulation to reduce CO2 emissions from new cars and vans has been the inability to deliver emissions reductions on the road. Whilst new car CO2 emissions measured using the obsolete laboratory test (NEDC) have fallen by 31% since 2000, on the road the reduction is just 10%. The gap between test and real-world performance has leapt from 9% in 2000 to 42% in 2017. Had the gap remained constant there would have been 264 Mt CO2eq less cumulative emissions by 2017. The additional fuel burned to produce these emissions cost drivers an extra €150 billion EU-wide.

Ending the cheating: using real-world CO2 measurements within the post-2020 CO2 standards

The biggest failure of the current car CO2 has been the failure to deliver emissions reductions on the road. Whilst new car CO2 emissions measured using the obsolete laboratory test (NEDC) have fallen by 31% since 2000, on the road the reduction is just, 11%. The gap between test and real-world performance has leapt from 9 to 42% weakening the regulation, increasing CO2 emissions and raising fuel bills for drivers. The underlying issue was basing the regulation on laboratory tests. Whilst the new WLTP addresses some loopholes, its introduction also creates new flexibilities that the car industry are planning to exploit to undermine both the current regulation to 2020/1 and proposed future regulations for 2025/30.