EU: New Car Emissions to be Cut by 30%

Tailpipe Emissions
Tailpipe Emissions

From 2020, European car manufacturers have to cut carbon dioxide emissions of new cars and vans by one third, according to an EU proposal.

The average emissions from new cars will have to be no more than 95g of CO2 per kilometre, representing a cut of more than 40g of what vehicles are allowed to emit today. It is also a 35g/km reduction from the 2015 target, if the proposed new regulations are accepted by the member states. With cost to charge electric cars going down, it’s no wonder electrification of personal transport is already happening.

Emissions for new vans will have to be cut from today’s level 181.4g/km to 147g per kilometre or less in 2020. It is also a further reduction from an interim target of 175g for 2017.

According to estimates of the EU, the 2020 proposal would also help consumers to save around €340 on fuel costs in the first year, and around €3500 over an car’s average lifetime of 13 years. The European Union also calculated that the reduced CO2 emissions will save a total of €30 billion a year in fuel costs across Europe, increasing EU’s GDP by €12 billion a year. It would help saving about 160m tonnes of imported oil and create new jobs in new greener technologies.

The proposal still needs to be accepted by EU member states and the European parliament before they will become continent wide law. Experts expect the process to be difficult as the car industry keeps lobbying politicians to soften the CO2 targets.

CARS 21, a pressure group consisting of car manufacturers trade unions and Chief Executive Officers, recently proposed a report to the European Commission suggesting to change the way carbon dioxide emissions are measured. The proposal, asking to take factors such as driver behaviour and international infrastructure into account, would effectively water down CO2 targets.

The car industry argues that strict carbon dioxide targets would incur high costs in research and development, making European car manufacturers less competitive compared to international automotive manufacturers.

Connie Hedegaard, climate chief of the European commission, dismissed the car lobby’s claims pointing out that car manufacturers brought forward the same protests before the 2015 targets were set in stone. Yet, car brands have almost achieved the 2015 goal before the official deadline.

“Look back at all the terrible things that [they said] would happen, then go and see what the manufacturers are doing – this is where the innovation curve took off,” Hedegaard said.

According to EU figures, the average emissions of cars in 2011 were 135.7g/km. It is still 5g/km above the 2015 target but numerous individual countries have already managed the 130g per kilometre. The stricter 2020 targets will have the same effect, the climate chief argued. “What we are proposing is a fair and balanced regulation” and the goals are “ambitious but achievable.”

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