European Commission publish proposals for limiting car emissions

The European Commission has announced its proposals for limiting average new car CO2 emissions to 130 grams per km by 2012. ‘Complementary measures’ – including biofuels, improved tyres and air conditioning systems – will be expected to contribute a further emissions cut of up to 10g/km.

The main measures it is proposing in the revised strategy are:

• A legislative framework to reduce CO2 emissions from new cars and vans will be proposed by the Commission by the end of this year or at the latest by mid 2008. This will provide the car industry with sufficient lead time and regulatory certainty.

• Average emissions from new cars sold in the EU-27 would be required to reach the 120g CO2/km target by 2012. Improvements in vehicle technology would have to reduce average emissions to no more than 130g/km, while complementary measures would contribute a further emissions cut of up to 10g/km, thus reducing overall emissions to 120g/km. These complementary measures include efficiency improvements for car components with the highest impact on fuel consumption, such as tyres and air conditioning systems, and a gradual reduction in the carbon content of road fuels, notably through greater use of biofuels. Efficiency requirements will be introduced for these car components.

• For vans, the fleet average emission targets would be 175g by 2012 and 160g by 2015, compared with 201g in 2002.

• Support for research efforts aimed at further reducing emissions from new cars to an average of 95g CO2/km by 2020.

• Measures to promote the purchase of fuel-efficient vehicles, notably through improved labelling and by encouraging Member States that levy car taxes to base them on cars’ CO2 emissions.

To encourage the car industry to compete on the basis of fuel efficiency instead of size and power, the Commission is also inviting manufacturers to sign an EU code of good practice on car marketing and advertising.

Brussels-based environment group T&E said in response to the EC announcement that the Commission “proposed to weaken an eleven-year-old climate target for new cars just five days after the global scientific community warned policymakers to take serious and urgent action on climate change.”

SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan commented that the plans cast a cloud on the horizon. He said: “We recognise the importance that cars play in climate change but everybody has a role to play in reducing CO2 emissions. It is important to put this in context and if the Commission is intent on placing the onus onto car manufacturers, then we see serious difficulties ahead.”

The European car makers’ trade association, ACEA, said: “The proposals are unbalanced and damaging to the European economy in terms of wealth, employment and growth potential.”