EU sets out new CO2 emissions targets

Car manufacturers will need to cut CO2 emissions by 30% from 2030 should new proposals from the European Commission go through. The targets look at average emissions limits from 2020, with stages at 2025 and 2030 onwards.

Plans will see cars and vans emit 15% less CO2 by 2025 than in 2021, and 30% less by 2030. The aim is to push manufacturers to produce greater numbers of zero- and ultra-low emission vehicles - ZEVs and ULEVs.

Changes would not have any legal impact on UK legislation since the Brexit process will be complete by then, though the UK could well adopt the same policy should the proposals go through.

Rules already in place for 2020 see a 95 g/km average CO2 limit, with fines for those manufactures exceeding limits - though there are production numbers and 'super-credits' from ULEV vehicles to take into account. In 2021, this will be switched from the current NEDC test figures to WLTP results though, which will make the real-world targets more difficult to achieve.

The proposals have been made to help with the EU's commitments under the Paris Agreement, and aim to reduce running costs for car buyers. Calculations say that around 170 million tonnes of CO2 will be saved between 2020 and 2030 if the plans go through - the equivalent of the total annual emissions of Austria and Greece combined.

Targets have also been suggested for the number of ZEVs and ULEVs to encourage investment in greener car technology. The proposals state that ULEVs - certainly by the time plans would come in - are models with CO2 emissions of 50 g/km of less, with only pure-EVs, PHEVs, and FCEVs the only technologies that can produce emissions figures that low currently.

Plans would see benchmarks - though no legal minimum quotas - for manufacturers to reach, with 15% of their market share made up or ZEVs and ULEVs in 2025, and 30% in 2030. Those that do will have a less strict overall CO2 target, with ZEVs counted as more than a ULEV in off-setting emissions.

Low output manufacturers - less than 10,000 car or 22,000 van registrations a year - can apply for a derogation from their target, and manufacturers can partner with other groups or brands to form a pool from which the CO2 target is reached.

To help support this, the EU has promised to invest 800 million euros in EV charging infrastructure across union states, and 200 million euros in battery production.

Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete said: "The global race to develop clean cars is on. It is irreversible. But Europe has to get its house in order to drive and lead this global shift. We need the right targets and the right incentives. With these CO2 measures for cars and vans, we are doing just that.

"Our targets are ambitious, cost-effective and enforceable. With the 2025 intermediary targets, we will kick-start investments already now. With the 2030 targets, we are giving stability and direction to keep up these investments. Today, we are investing in Europe and cracking down on pollution to meet our Paris Agreement pledge to cut our emissions by at least 40% by 2030."

Reaction is mixed and largely depends from which vantage point stakeholders are coming from. For example, Reuters reports that BMW Chief Executive Harald Krueger said "What is now coming out of Brussels is very very ambitious," at an industry conference on Wednesday (8th November).

However, environemtnal campaigners say that the plans don't go far enough, with Greg Archer, clean vehicles director at Transport and Environment (T&E), saying: "The Commission have gifted the car industry an ineffective regulation after they came calling. Removing the penalty for failing to meet zero-emission vehicle targets is an own goal. It amounts to handing the global leadership on electric cars to China, which will be delighted to export their models to Europe, jeopardising jobs in Europe’s auto industry."

A T&E press release stated: "The target for zero emission vehicles of 30% of new sales in 2030 is welcome; but the failure to apply penalties for missing the goal renders it largely ineffective. The rules were weakened at the last minute following a call between President Juncker's office and Matthias Wissmann, head of the German car lobby association (VDA).

"The Commission proposal also fails to adequately respond to the urgent need to tackle transport CO2 emissions highlighted by the increase of 2.1% in the last year – other sectors’ emissions are falling.

"Specifically, the draft law requires CO2 emissions from new cars to fall by just 30% between 2021 and 2030; with an intermediate target of 15% for 2025. This covers less than a third of the road transport emission cuts that are needed by 2030. As a result, EU countries will have to resort to much more difficult measures such as restricting traffic, banning combustion cars or very steep fuel tax increases."

Greg Archer concluded: “The car industry may be leading at half-time but the game isn't over. It is now down to member states and Parliament to make changes to the proposal in order to put Europe on a trajectory to clean up cars and vans and make its auto industry globally competitive. Regrettably, the Commission has failed to do either or learn from past mistakes."

You can view the full proposals at the EC website here.

Find out more about vehicle emissions here

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:9th Nov 2017

Related news