13th Aug 2022

Car emissions endanger EU climate goals, Greens say

  • There are over 216 million cars on Europe's roads (Photo: EUobserver)

The EU needs more ambitious greenhouse-gas reducing targets if it is to reach its international environment commitments, a new study commissioned by green euro-deputies says.

The study, published Thursday (18 October), takes the different greenhouse gas emission limits supported by the commission, MEPs, the European car industry and the Greens and examines what practical effect they would have.

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According to the study, the EU could save 45 million tonnes of CO2 emissions every year by 2015 if all new cars had an average carbon dioxide emission limit of 120 g/km by 2012, as the MEPs and the Greens suggest.

The savings would only be 23 million tonnes annually by 2015 if the limit was set to 130 g/km by 2012, as the commission proposed in February this year.

Furthermore, a so-called "follow-up" target of 80 g/km by 2020 could save the EU 95 million tonnes of CO2 annually by 2020, argues the parliament's green group.

"This study shows that only with strict and binding CO2 emissions limit values for carmakers, starting with a 120 g/km limit for 2012, will the EU achieve the necessary reduction in emissions from cars to ensure it can meet its climate targets," said green MEP Claude Turmes from Luxembourg.

"There has been political agreement on this limit value for more than ten years; if we let carmakers off the hook again, the whole EU climate strategy will be jeopardised," he added.

Carmakers dig their heels

The study is a sideswipe at the European car industry, which has staunchly fought against mandatory limits on how many grammes of emissions per kilometre a new car should be allowed to emit.

The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) – which represents the 13 major European car, truck and bus makers in the EU – says it supports Brussels' objective of further reducing average car emissions.

But it argues that 2015 rather than 2012 should be the target year for reducing emissions in new cars.

Sigrid de Vries from ACEA told the EUobserver that the measures should be cost-effective or it could lead to car factories moving out of Europe.

She argued that the best way to both cut CO2 emissions from cars, and at the same time sell European cars at affordable prices would be to combine such targets with more vehicle technology, increased use of alternative fuels, improved infrastructure and traffic management, drivers driving in a more eco-friendly manner as well as harmonised CO2-related taxation across the bloc.

EU emissions targets

The EU committed itself in 2002 to cut CO2 emissions by 8 percent over the period 2008-12 under the Kyoto protocol, while EU leaders additionally agreed in March this year to a reduction of 20 percent of CO2 emissions by 2020, or 30 percent if other industrialised countries join in.

Transport is responsible for about 21 percent of CO2 emissions in the EU, with passenger transport accounting for 12 percent of total CO2 emissions in the bloc.

European carmakers pledged in 2004 to voluntarily reduce CO2 emissions to an industry average of 140 g/km, or 25 percent of 1995 levels by 2008, but are set to miss this target. The industry average is currently 160 g/km.

The EU executive is before the new year set to come out with a detailed plan on how car manufacturers should reach the headline goal of reducing CO2 emissions of all new cars to an average limit of 130 g/km by 2012.

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