Reducing car emissions: new CO2 targets for cars and vans explained 


To reduce car emissions, MEPs propose tougher CO2 limits on cars and vans to reach zero emissions on roads by 2035.

In an effort to deliver on its ambitious climate goals, the EU is revising legislation in sectors that have a direct impact under the Fit for 55 package. This includes transport, the only sector in which greenhouse gas emissions remain higher than in 1990, having increased more than 25%. Transport accounts for a fifth of total EU emissions.

Road transport accounts for the largest percentage of transport emissions and in 2021 was responsible for 72% of all EU domestic and international transport greenhouse gas emissions.

Why cars and vans?

Passenger cars and vans (light commercial vehicles) produce about 15% of the EU’s total CO2 emissions

Toughening car emissions standards would help to achieve the EU’s climate targets for 2030.

Current situation

Average CO2 emissions from new cars was 122.3 g CO2/km in 2019, better than the EU target of 130 g CO2/km for the period 2015-2019, but well above the target of 95g/km set for 2021 onwards.

The number of electric cars has been growing fast, accounting for 11% of newly registered passenger cars in 2020.

Find out more facts and figures in our infographics

New targets

In July 2021, the European Commission proposed to reduce the limit for emissions from cars and vans by a further 15% from 2025; followed by a 55% reduction for cars and 50% for vans by 2030 and to reach zero emissions by 2035.

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.

MEPs’ climate ambitions

Parliament's environment committee backed the Commission’s goal of zero emission roads by 2035 in a report adopted on 11 May. The committee says that the Commission should report on the progress toward zero road emissions and its impact on consumers and employment by the end of 2025.

MEPs also want the Commission to develop a methodology to assess the full life-cycle of CO2 emissions from cars and vans, including the fuel and energy consumed, by 2023.

The committee report is expected to be adopted during June's plenary session in Strasbourg, which would allow MEPs to start negotiating with EU governments.

Discover more EU measures to reduce carbon emissions


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