10 Oct 18

EU states target 35% CO2 reduction

EU member states have agreed on 35% as their CO2 emissions reduction target for new cars and vans by 2030. Some countries wanted 40%. While welcoming the milder proposal, European carmakers warn that it could still hit their competitiveness.

Other elements of the EU member states' proposal include a 15% reduction in CO2 emissions by cars and vans by 2025; and a derogation of niche manufacturers producing no more than 300,000 units per annum, with Jaguar Land Rover as a notable beneficiary. 

In the middle
Last week, the European Parliament (EP) agreed on its own proposal for CO2 emissions reduction by cars and vans: 40% by 2030. The European Commission (EC) had previously suggested a target of 30%. 

The compromise reached by the 28 EU member states – 20 voted for, 4 against, with 4 abstaining – lands neatly in the middle. 

Ireland and the Netherlands, among a few others, wanted to follow the EP target of 40% CO2 emissions reduction (compared to 2021 emissions levels) by 2030. They voiced their disappointment with the compromise reached by the member states on Tuesday.

Crediting system
Germany, on the other hand, leaned more towards the EC proposal, saying that targeting a reduction greater than -30% would risk harming its own massive automotive industry, and the many jobs dependent on it.   

According to sources familiar with the negotiations, Germany with a few Eastern European allies blocked calls by some member states for more ambitious emissions targets. 

For many poorer member states, the 35% target seemed daunting enough. A last-minute amendment, creating a crediting system that would encourage carmakers to increase the sale of EVs, eased their concerns. The system would allow for different accounting in countries where market penetration of zero- and low-emission vehicles currently is less than 60% of the EU average. 

“Less aggressive”
The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) welcomed the fact that the member states' proposal was “less aggressive” than the EP one, it still warned for a negative impact of the proposal on the competitiveness of the European automotive industry. 

While the system to incentivise zero- and low-emissions vehicles gives the right signal to both industry and consumers, ACEA “remains concerned that the penalty-based system supported by (the EP) last week – combined with high sales quotas – is not in line with reality and would interfere with the principle of technological neutrality.” 

Major contribution
Green lobby group Transport & Environment was also disappointed by the member states' compromise. It said it put carmakers' concerns first, despite the urgent need to fix climate change.  

The final targets will be agreed in talks starting this Wednesday between the member states, the EP and the EC. 

The EU aims to cut overall greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. Transport will have to make a major contribution since it is the only industry in which emissions are still rising. 

Authored by: Frank Jacobs