Environment MEPs approve new rules for achieving cleaner cars 

Cars will be much cleaner by 2020 thanks to new rules approved by the EP's environment committee © BELGA/J.Hardy/Maxppp  

The environment committee has approved new rules for making it possible for the EU to meet an ambitious target for cleaner cars by 2020. CO2 emissions will need to come down from 130gCO2/km in 2015 to 95gCO2/km by 2020. This is important as one fifth of all CO2 emissions in Europe comes from cars, while emissions from road transport increased by 26% between 1990 and 2008. The proposal approved this week sets out the concrete steps needed to achieve the 2020 target.

Reducing CO2 emissions

The 2020 target for 95gCO2/km will be achieved in stages by lowering the limits for cars' CO2 emissions year by year. The EU is also looking beyond 2020. For car manufacturers it will be important to know which standards will be accepted after 2020 in order to develop the necessary technology. By 2050 emissions from road transport should be halved

How it will be achieved

The proposal introduces an incentives system for producers to build cars that emit fewer emissions. If car makers manage to produce cars with emissions below the target for that year, they are rewarded with super credits, which they can use to compensate in years that they fail to meet the target. If companies do not meet the target, they will will have to pay for each gram per kilometre that is emitted above the limit.

In order to assess if firms meet the target, all their cars will be taken into account. So if they have more polluting models, they can compensate by having enough cleaner ones, so that they still achieve the target on balance.

Striking the right balance

In addition to the environment, the committee also had to consider how the measures would affect the EU's car industry. Thomas Ulmer, a German member of the EPP group who is responsible for steering the proposal through Parliament, pointed out: "Binding emission standards for car suppliers have an enormous impact on jobs all over Europe." He added that the new rules will lead to cars that use less petrol, helping their owners to save money.

Next steps

Mr Ulmer will now lead negotiations with member states. MEPs are expected to vote on the proposal in July 2013. Both Parliament and the Council will have to approve it before it can enter into force.