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‘120 by 2012 must stay,‘ say MEPs 26.09.07

MEPs have sent a strong signal to the Commission and Europe’s governments that the EU’s long-standing commitment on carbon dioxide limits for new cars must be respected.

In its debate on the Commission’s proposals for limiting CO2 emissions for the period after the current voluntary agreement runs out next year, the European Parliament’s environment committee passed a resolution which rejects many of the watered down elements in the proposals that were published in February.

Most strikingly, the committee said the original target – for the average new car sold in Europe to emit no more than 120 grams of CO2 per kilometre by 2012 should remain. The Commission is proposing the 120 g/km commitment should be weakened to 130 g/km for engine technology, with the final 10g to be made up of parallel measures such as increased use of biofuels.

There has also been pressure from the car industry for the 130 g/km commitment to be delayed until 2015, despite the 120 g/km target having been first envisaged for 2005 when CO2 legislation was first proposed in the mid-1990s.

Weight

But MEPs on the environment committee rejected all this, reinforcing the current “120 g/km by 2012” target and saying there should be a binding target of 95 g/km for 2020 and a further one of 70 g/km for 2025.

Another proposal rejected by the environment committee was the idea of basing CO2 limits on the weight of a vehicle. Over the summer, leading figures from the car industry publicly called for new standards to be easier to meet for heavier cars, notably sport utility vehicles (SUVs).

But MEPs voted for a proposal that said any categorisation of vehicles should be made not on the basis of weight but on “footprint” (the area between the four wheels), a decision welcomed by T&E. “Giving heavier cars easier CO2 standards would be like telling fat people to eat more food,” said T&E director Jos Dings. “If you take away the main incentive for losing weight, you’re going to get heavier cars, which will kill more people, guzzle more fuel and pump out more emissions.”

Slowing down

The vote, which has to be ratified by the full Parliament next month, comes as the rate of progress by car makers on CO2 reduction is slowing down. Figures obtained by T&E show that European makers cut emissions by just 0.2% in 2006, giving a fleet-wide average of 160 g/km.

This represents the smallest annual improvement since the current voluntary target of 140 g/km by 2008 was agreed in 1998. T&E says it makes it “almost certain” that this target will be missed.

The Parliament’s position will be used as input to a formal legislative proposal the Commission is expected to publish early next year.

This article first appeared in Transport and Environment September Bulletin- see link below

Peter Shield

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Transport and Environment September Bulletin (PDF)

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