Review of CO2 emission standards for new cars and vans

Briefing 31-01-2018

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's impact assessment (IA) accompanying the above proposal, adopted on 8 November 2017 and referred to European Parliament's Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI). According to the IA, road transport caused 22 % of all EU greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2015, 73 % of which came from cars and vans (IA, p. 19). The transport sector (except for aviation) is not covered by the EU's emissions trading system (ETS), adopted in 2005 in the context of international efforts to reduce GHG. Instead, the EU has put sector-specific legislation in place, in particular to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. When it became clear that a 1999 voluntary emissions reduction agreement between the European Commission and the Association of European Automobile Manufacturers had not delivered, the EU adopted two regulations on mandatory CO2 standards for all new passenger cars and vans, in 2009 and 2011 respectively. Both were amended in 2014 with new emissions targets. After the Paris Agreement, countries such as China, the United States of America (USA) and Japan quickly began implementing ambitious policies for low-carbon transport. To comply with the agreement, the EU included the proposal to amend the current legislation in the European Commission's 2017 work programme. The review of the current regulations started in 2015, with publication of the European Commission's extensive ex-post evaluation. It found the current regulations effective and more efficient than expected, but also identified weaknesses. These included the measurement of emissions (test procedures), the utility parameter (mass or footprint) and emissions from energy and vehicle production, currently not covered (IA, pp. 15-16). As announced in its May 2017 communication, Europe on the Move, the Commission is pursuing an integrated approach to address all factors and actors relevant for CO2 emissions, from environment to industry (IA, p. 11). This proposal is therefore part of a comprehensive legislative package aiming to ensure 'clean, competitive and connected mobility for all' (IA, pp. 11-12, 17) and is flanked by important initiatives such as the EU action plan on alternative fuels infrastructure, revision of the Clean Vehicles Directive and the battery initiative.