European Parliament

MEPs debate proposed climate package and possibility of carbon-free cars

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Source: European Parliament

There are a staggering 220 million cars on Europe's roads and that number is growing all the time. The CO2 they emit is 12% of the yearly total for the whole European Union. MEPs recently debated proposals by the European Commission to increase fuel efficiency and substantially cut CO2 emissions within 4 years. In October Members called on Europe's carmakers to meet even tougher CO2 emissions targets.

In the mid-1990's voluntary targets on CO2 emissions from cars were set at 120g of CO2 per kilometre by 2012. Since then heavier and more powerful cars have made that target unrealistic. At present average levels are 160g of CO2 per kilometre. The Commission is proposing penalties of up to €95 per gram, per kilometre for manufacturers who don't meet the targets.
 
The European Parliament approved a target of 125g CO2/km by 2015 and a long-term target of 95g CO2/km by 2020 last October.
 
130g of CO2 per km within four years
 
In response the European Commission has proposed a binding target for Europe's car makers of 120g per CO2/km. This would mainly come through more efficient engines and improvements in tyres, air conditioning systems and more fuel-efficient driving.
 
The target would be divided among carmakers based on the number of vehicles manufactured. A partial exemption is envisaged for manufacturers whose EU-sales are below 10,000 units.
 
Parliament's rapporteur on the proposals, Italian Socialist Guido Sacconi, wants to stick to the 95g/km by 2020 target, which is 40% below the current EU average.
 
Mr Sacconi made a plea to the car making industry 'for a comparable effort with the one demanded on other production sectors' with regards to CO2 reduction. He stressed the importance of legal clarity 'to offer enterprises a certainty needed for the definition of their investment programs'. He wants a review of long-term targets in 2014.
 
Getting drivers on board
 
With fuel prices going up, more efficient cars could save drivers money, according to Mr Sacconi. He sees saving CO2 and money as compatible for consumes. Research shows that tighter environmental targets could increase the price of cars by up to 6% but that this could be offset by the need to buy less fuel. 
 
Mr Sacconi is optimistic that design and development research into more efficient cars could create more jobs and improve the global market position of European carmakers.
 
The proposals are due to be voted on by the whole European Parliament in September after which MEPs and EU transport ministers will discuss them with the aim of getting an agreement by the end of the year.

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