Press release

MEPs back cuts in cars' CO2 emissions

Environment - 24-10-2007 - 15:15
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About 19% of EU CO2 emissions are produced by passenger cars and light-commercial vehicles. The automotive industry's voluntary commitment to slash emissions has proven a "failure", however -- this, according to a report by the European Parliament, adopted today by a large majority, which calls for legislation to cap average emissions from all new passenger cars at 125g CO2/km as of 2015.

Despite the fact that "the technology is there to make a significant difference in a short period of time", notes rapporteur Chris Davies (ALDE, UK), "industry has stalled in reducing CO2 emissions". Welcoming the Commission's plan to propose binding legislation in this field -- which they see as "necessary [...] to help the EU meet its target of reducing emissions by at least 20% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels" -- MEPs proposed that binding annual emissions targets be set with effect from 2011.
During the debate in Strasbourg Chris Davies said: "Emission reductions must be made a priority for car makers, but they have to be achieved at the lowest possible expense. That means giving industry specific targets and sufficient time to make the changes. These improvements may increase the price of new cars, but then reduced emissions mean improved fuel economy.
The car industry is supposed to be drawing up a voluntary code of advertising conduct but we have had our fingers burnt through voluntary codes and any such measure should be regarded with suspicion. It is time that advertisements give consumers more details of the fuel economy and emission performance of the vehicles on sale. This information should be upfront and not buried away in the small print. We need to encourage car makers to compete on the basis that their cars are safe and stylish and environmentally-friendly."
Aligning themselves with the Commission's position, MEPs insist that "average emissions from all passenger cars placed on the EU market in 2015 do not exceed 125g CO2/km".  (Taking account of the automobile industry's development and production cycles, MEPs decided to move away from an earlier proposal to introduce such a cap as of 1 January 2012). At the same time, the EP backed plans to compel car makers to meet these targets by "technical means alone" -- i.e., without relying on other CO2 saving measures, such as biofuels, special tires, or improvements in air-conditioning systems.
As of 2020, reads the report, such average emissions should not exceed 95g CO2/km. Long-term targets, urge MEPs, should be determined by no later than 2016: these targets "will possibly require further emissions reductions to 70g CO2/km or less by 2025".
Recognizing, however, the difficulties that some specialist manufacturers may have in reducing average emissions across the limited range of cars they produce, members "stress the importance of allowing particular vehicles to exceed emission limits to avoid excessive disruptions to the car market. To that end, they also propose that each manufacturer have the right "to exclude 500 identified vehicles annually from inclusion in the data used to determine average emissions".
The report proposes the introduction -- in 2011 -- of a "Carbon Allowance Reductions System (CARS)", a market mechanism through which carmakers would have to pay penalties for exceeding the emissions limits. Such penalties, notes the text, "may be offset by redeemable credits awarded to newly registered passenger cars" (of the same manufacturer) whose emissions fall below the limit values.
On the other hand, low emission cars -- such as hydrogen, fuel cell, and plug-in vehicles -- should benefit from a credit system, "which should allow each vehicle of this type introduced between now and the first year of implementation to be counted under the CO2 monitoring procedure as equivalent to, for example, forty conventional vehicles".
Lastly, Members recommend - for the purposes of comparison - to introduce requirements for the display of information "relating to the fuel economy (l/100 km) and CO2 emissions (g/km) of new cars" on vehicles and in advertising (whether TV, radio, Internet or other), all marketing and promotional literature, as well as showrooms. "A minimum of 20%" of the space devoted to such advertising, the report proposes, should provide information on fuel economy and CO2 emissions.
REF.: 20071023IPR12110