Reducing car emissions: new CO2 targets for cars explained 

The EU is working on plans to cut cars' CO2 emissions ©APimages/European Union-EP 

To reduce car emissions MEPs proposed tougher CO2 limits on cars and a new target for rolling-out e-cars on 3 October. Here’s what you should know the plans.

Why it is needed

Cars and vans produce about 15% of the EU’s CO2 emissions, which contribute to climate change. Transport is the only sector in which greenhouse gas emissions are still higher than they were in 1990.

Toughening car emissions standards would help to achieve the EU’s climate targets for 2030 and consumers would save on their fuel bills.

Current situation

Average emissions by new cars rose to 118.5g CO2/km last year following a steady decline over the past few years, according to recent data. Under current rules, the average new car must not emit more than 95g/km by 2021.

The number of electric cars is growing fast, but they still make up less than 1.5% of new registrations.

What is being proposed

The European Commission is proposing to reduce the 2021 limit for emissions by 15% from 2025 and by 30% from 2030. New targets are expressed in percentages because the 95 g/km standard will have to be recalculated according to the new more rigorous emissions test that better reflects real driving conditions.

In a plenary vote on 3 October, MEPs said emissions should be cut respectively by 20% and 40%, while 35% of new cars sold from 2030 should be electric or hybrid. They also called for EU measures to ease the automotive industry’s shift to cleaner cars to help protect jobs and to support the production of electric car batteries in Europe.

On 18 October, the environment committee also proposed tougher CO2 limits on news trucks. Committee members want manufacturers to cut their CO2 emissions 35% by 2030. MEPs also said half of new urban buses should be electric from 2025.

All MEPs are set to vote on these proposals during November’s plenary session in Strasbourg, after which final targets will be negotiated with the Council.

Next steps

The proposals adopted in plenary form the basis of Parliament's negotiations with the Council on the final targets.