EU’s stricter CO2 targets “impossible”, say automakers
The EU’s target to reduce its industrial emissions by 2030 should increase from 40% to “at least 55%”, European Commission (EC) president Ursula von der Leyen (pictured) said in her State of the Union address. That would seriously burden Europe’s auto industry. The cause of decarbonisation is better served by better policies rather than stricter targets, ACEA counters.
In March, the EC proposed a European Climate Law, which would make the goal of climate neutrality by 2050 legally binding, and which would include a more ambitious emissions reduction plan than the present one.
Von der Leyen’s proposal to increase the target from 40% to 55% certainly is ambitious. The extra effort requires an additional investment of €350 billion per year. A part of that amount will go towards accelerating the development of cleaner cars and more sustainable energy generation (solar, wind and hydrogen).
But as yet, her proposal is just that – a proposal. The new 2030 targets will eventually be decided in a ‘trialogue’ between the EC, the member states and the European Parliament (EP). By the way, the EP’s Environment committee previously advocated a 60% reduction by 2030.
The EC’s stricter emissions targets would have specific consequences for the automotive industry. They imply that average CO2 emissions of new cars in 2030 should be 50% below 2021 levels. The current target calls for a 37.5% reduction.
The higher target may be close to impossible to achieve, experts warn. Especially since, after some years of effective CO2 reductions, the emissions have started rising again.
From 2010 to 2016, CO2 emission by the average new car sold in the EU declined by 22 g/km. But as petrol took market share from diesel and SUVs became more popular, that figure has started ticking up again: by 0.4 g/km in 2017 and by 2.3 g/km in 2018, to 120.8 g/km. That is well above the 95 g/km target for 2021.
Earlier this year, ACEA asked the EU to postpone its 2021 targets. The pandemic and associated lockdowns have saddled OEMs with about 600,000 excess unsold vehicles. These conform to current emissions norms, but not to those coming into effect from 1 January. China has delayed its new emissions standards for the same reason, ACEA argued.
So it’s no surprise ACEA is not amused by Von der Leyen’s even tougher proposal. Her target is impossible to achieve without adequate policies, the association argues. Specifically, ACEA says it would be better to first shape the right policies, notably in terms of improving the charging infrastructure across Europe, before increasing emissions reduction targets.
For its part, VDA, the German automotive industry association, has warned that massive tightening of CO2 targets would be impossible to meet and could lead to painful job losses. The organisation regrets that the EC does not take into account the economic hardship caused by the pandemic.
Interesting to note is the forecast that the EU is on track to miss its current reduction target of 40%. Raising it to 55% would require a massive extra effort by member states and affected industries.
However, the EC sees its Emissions Trading System (ETS) as a key instrument to allow flexibility while achieving the overall goals and wants to expand it to include transport.
The EC hopes an updated 2030 target can be decided as early as 15 October, at the next meeting of the European Council. More realistically, talks will drag on until the end of the year.