Cars and CO2

One of the most important steps Europe can take to save drivers money, combat climate change, and create high-tech jobs is to require carmakers to produce more efficient vehicles. In 2008, the EU introduced legally-binding CO2 standards, for the first time setting a goal that, on average, new cars sold in Europe in 2015 should emit 130 grammes of CO2 per kilometre. This weak target has been met early, and most carmakers are on track to meet the 2021 goal of 95g. Half the improvement results from carmakers manipulating the obsolete test that must be replaced in 2017. The Commission also needs to make a new proposal for 2025 standards for cars and vans in 2017.

What's happening?

In 2008, the EU set legally-binding targets for new cars to emit 130 grammes of CO2 per km by 2015 and 95g in 2020.  In July 2012, the European Commission put forward a proposal on how the 2020 target should be met.

The Commission issued its draft proposal in July 2012. In April 2013, the Environment Committee of the European Parliament voted in favour of this proposal, confirming the 95 gram target for 2020 and setting a range of 68-78g CO2 /km for cars sold from 2025. In June 2013, The Irish Presidency of the Council, the Commission and European Parliament reached an agreement on the final text. Regrettably, the agreement was blocked at the last minute by Germany. After further negotiations a new deal was struck under the Lithuanian Presidency in December 2013, marginally amending the previous agreement by phasing in the regulation by 1-year. The European Council of Member States have now approved the revised deal unanimously and the European Parliament accepted the new agreement in February 2014.

Europe’s current fuel efficiency testing regime was developed more than 40 years ago and is now inadequate and outdated - which has lead to carmakers manipulating test results. The European Commission plans to have a new test cycle, the World Light Duty Test Procedure (WLTP), by 2017. While it is widely supported by MEPs, carmakers want to delay it until after 2021.


Key statistics

EU total road transport emissions (2013) Approx. 20% (one-fifth) of EU’s overall greenhouse gas emissions
Cars & Vans  
Share of emissions from cars & vans (2013) Approx. 12.5% (one-eighth) of EU’s overall greenhouse gas emissions
EU policies to decarbonise cars

CO2 limits for new cars:
1.     an average of 130 grams of CO2 per kilometre (g CO2/Km) by 2015

2.     95g by 2021
NOTE: the average CO2 emissions from the new car fleet in 2013 were 127.0 g CO2/km

CO2 limits translated into fuel consumption

130g = 5.6 litres/100km (Petrol)

95g = 4 litres/100km (Petrol)

Cost saving of a 95 g CO2/km car for the average driver 

Around EUR 500 a year, based on today’s pump prices compared to current vehicles.
European oil imports In 2012 the EU imported oil equivalent to €350 billion - one third of it for cars.
Car production in Europe (2012) 14.6m cars
Car registration in Europe (2012) 12.1m cars
Car exports (2012) 1.4m cars