European Environment Committee votes for even stricter CO2 emissions targets

11 September 2018

11 September 2018

The European Parliament’s Environment Committee has endorsed new rules on CO2 targets for vehicle manufacturers from 2021, however, it has proposed even tougher targets than originally suggested.

The agreement means the plans have now passed their final hurdle before a parliament-wide vote on the matter in October, where the new targets are expected to be ratified and enshrined into law. Rather than the original 15% reduction on current regulations until 2025 and 30% by 2030, the environment committee wants 20% and 45% reductions respectively.

The new limits would be even tougher for vehicle manufacturers to meet. Last year, CO2 levels in Europe rose following a long period of decline. The sudden drop in diesel vehicle sales, the market boost for SUVs and the lack of development and infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs) mean some carmakers are at risk of breaching existing targets in 2020.

In addition, the introduction of WLTP has disrupted production from some carmakers, and also changed the emissions level landscape, with a number of models recording higher CO2 output as a result.

Both manufacturers and suppliers have campaigned against the original lower limits, saying they would be forced to transition from internal combustion engine vehicles to EVs sooner than planned, a process that could cost thousands of jobs. They argued that consumers were not ready to pay extra for expensive electric vehicles without heavy subsidies and that the charging infrastructure was underdeveloped.

′We cannot push these electric cars down people’s throats,’ said Erik Jonnaert from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) ahead of the vote

The EU’s new rules aim to help meet the bloc’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. They will introduce a credit system for carmakers to encourage the rollout of electric vehicles and fines for exceeding CO2 limits.

Under the plan, automakers would be able to lower their overall targets by selling more low-emission vehicles. The Environment Committee also agreed on higher targets for sales of low- and zero-emissions vehicles, 20% in 2025 and 40% in 2030, compared to the commission’s proposals of 15% and 30% in those years, and endorsed penalties for carmakers who miss those goals.

Germany’s Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) has promptly sharply criticised the decision of the Environmental Committee. ‘The vote goes past the technical and economic reality,’ said VDA President Bernhard Mattes. The proposed targets are not feasible during this period and would result in the loss of many jobs in Europe. Even the proposal of the EU Commission is extremely ambitious and sufficient to achieve the climate targets.

′The Environment Committee puts pithy demands in the room but gives no answers to the question of how the transformation to climate-friendly mobility can succeed. Such demands conflict with the policy objective of strengthening growth and employment in Europe.’

It is unclear whether the stricter rules will win approval next month when the European Parliament votes on the matter.