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New CO2 emissions standards for new cars

Public discussion with MEP Miriam Dalli

11-01-2019

In a well-attended public discussion on EU legislation in the making that seeks to reduce Co2 emissions from new cars and vans, the lead MEP for the European Parliament Miriam Dalli and experts discussed environmental and health concerns and also car industry concerns and incentives needed for people to move to more environment-friendly modes of transport.

“This legislation will make a difference across EU member states including Malta. It will open up the market for clean mobility ensuring that consumers have access to cheaper cleaner cars with lower running costs and fuel savings. In addition, reducing CO2 emissions from new vehicles will increase our efforts in fighting climate change. Ultimately, reducing emissions will provide better air quality for all with a positive impact on citizen's public health,” noted EP Rapporteur Dalli in her keynote intervention.

The MEP noted she consulted a wide variety of stakeholders in her year-long work on this legislation, and insisted that the car manufacturing’s own industry standards for reducing emissions should apply to also to Europe, pointing out that the car manufacturing industry invests seven times as much in zero and low emissions car manufacturing elsewhere than it does in Europe. Speakers agreed that the EU should be a leader in innovation. This would stimulate jobs and a greener economy.

The new EU legislation will complement any measures taken by the Member States at national level, and does not address all the challenges posed by the transport industry, which is the major contributor to CO2 emissions. Other legislation is in the making, including on trucks, whereas standards for the shipping industry are currently being pushed by the EP’s Environment Committee.

Participants noted that this particular law deals with new cars and vans whereas second hand cars are the majority of cars on the road. The rapporteur pointed to the renovation of the fleet whereby today’s new cars will be tomorrow’s second hand cars.

While the car industry is not the only sector to blame for the increase in respiratory diseases, and related deaths, reducing emissions from the automobile sector would certainly go a long way to curb it, Dr Gouder from the Mater Dei Department of Respiratory Medicine, said.

Prof Simone Borg, from the Institute of Climate Change, observed that while shifting to public transport should continue to be the priority, reducing car emissions should be perceived as an exercise in innovation, while guarding against shifting one source of pollution to another.

Mr Mark Scerri, from the Environment and Resources Authority also warned against legislating an area at the expense of another, noting that technology will not solve all the problems and that sustainable transport policies are also needed.

Questions from the floor echoed the initial appeal made by Dr Claire Bonello, from the Scientific Advisory Council for the Environment and ENGO counsel: to communicate the solutions more than the consequences of climate change, and ranged from how investment in car industry innovation could be brought back to Europe, to the more hands-on issues of providing practical support and incentives to investing in an electric car. Suggestions from the public included introducing parking meters and exempting electric vehicles from payment, and reserving parking spaces in front of the homes of those who need to charge their car but do not own a garage, so they may charge their cars.

The effect on industry changes on workers were also discussed, with the need to match skills and educational training to innovative industries underlined. The European Parliament also introduced in this legislation a the idea that any money collected from manufacturers who do not respect emissions levels be fed into a fund for employees’ training for new skills or new jobs so they are protected.
The tough negotiations, which earned the MEP the title of “Eco-Warrior” in Politico magazine, came to an end on the 17 December with an agreement to reduce emissions from cars by 37.5 percent by 2030 and from vans by 31 percent by 2030, with an interim target of 15% for both by 2025.

As revealed by the EP rapporteur, Council is expected to give final endorsement on 16 January, the EP’s environment committee five days later, and Parliament’s plenary will take a final vote in March.
Opening the public debate, the acting Head of the European Parliament Office in Malta Anna Zammit Vella announced the launch today of the European Parliament’s Citizens App for mobile phones. This app puts EU information at our fingertips, helping citizens be better informed on the EU’s achievements, ongoing work, and future goals as well as explaining what the European Parliament does. The app was launched in the run up to the European elections, which will take place in Malta on 25 May 2019.
Participants were urged to raise awareness of these elections and express themselves on what direction the EU should take in future by signing up on www.thistimeimvoting.eu or www.diddarbasenivvota.eu.