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IP/07/155

Brussels, 7 February 2007

Commission plans legislative framework to ensure the EU meets its target for cutting CO2 emissions from cars

The European Commission today proposed a comprehensive new strategy to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new cars and vans sold in the European Union. The new strategy, together with a revision of EU fuel quality standards proposed last week, further underline the Commission's determination to ensure the EU meets its greenhouse gas emission targets under the Kyoto Protocol and beyond. The strategy will enable the EU to reach its long-established objective of limiting average CO2 emissions to 120 grams per km[1] by 2012 - a reduction of around 25% from current levels. By improving fuel efficiency, the revised strategy. l will deliver substantial fuel savings for drivers. To encourage the car industry to compete on the basis of fuel efficiency instead of size and power, the Commission is also inviting manufacturers to sign an EU code of good practice on car marketing and advertising.

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: "This strategy is the most ambitious approach ever and the most ambitious approach worldwide towards the development of a low-carbon economy - which is vital for averting climate change. It is the concrete proof of EU leadership in the field. This will require efforts from all sectors, but also open up enormous opportunities for the EU car industries. I call on the EU's car industries to preserve their long term competitiveness by taking the innovative lead, in the interest of consumers and workers alike."

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas commented: "Cleaner, more efficient and affordable cars will help reduce carbon dioxide in the EU, enable us to achieve our Kyoto targets, save energy and encourage innovation. All Member States will need to pull their weight in implementing the measures necessary and have a major responsibility to encourage the purchase of fuel-efficient cars as well as discourage fuel-inefficiency."

CO2 emissions from cars

Road transport generates about one fifth of the EU's CO2 emissions, with passenger cars responsible for around 12%. Although there have been significant improvements over recent years in vehicle technology - particularly in fuel efficiency, which translates into lower CO2 emissions – these have not been enough to neutralise the effect of increases in traffic and car size. While the EU-25 reduced overall emissions of greenhouse gases by almost 5% between 1990 and 2004, CO2 emissions from road transport rose by 26%.

Reinforcing the EU strategy

The current EU strategy for reducing CO2 emissions from cars is based on voluntary commitments by the car industry, consumer information (car labelling) and fiscal measures to encourage purchases of more fuel-efficient cars. Under the voluntary commitments, European manufacturers have said they will reduce average emissions from their new cars to 140g CO2/km by 2008, while the Japanese and Korean industries will do so by 2009.

However, the strategy has brought only limited progress towards achieving the target of 120g CO2/km by 2012; from 1995 to 2004 average emissions from new cars sold in the EU-15 fell from 186g CO2/km to 163g CO2/km.

The Commission's review of the strategy has concluded that the voluntary commitments have not succeeded and that the 120g target will not be met on time without further measures.

The main measures it is proposing in the revised strategy are as follows:

  • A legislative framework to reduce CO2 emissions from new cars and vans will be proposed by the Commission by the end of this year or at the latest by mid 2008. This will provide the car industry with sufficient lead time and regulatory certainty.
  • Average emissions from new cars sold in the EU-27 would be required to reach the 120g CO2/km target by 2012. Improvements in vehicle technology would have to reduce average emissions to no more than 130g/km, while complementary measures would contribute a further emissions cut of up to 10g/km, thus reducing overall emissions to 120g/km. These complementary measures include efficiency improvements for car components with the highest impact on fuel consumption, such as tyres and air conditioning systems, and a gradual reduction in the carbon content of road fuels, notably through greater use of biofuels. Efficiency requirements will be introduced for these car components.
  • For vans, the fleet average emission targets would be 175g by 2012 and 160g by 2015, compared with 201g in 2002.
  • Support for research efforts aimed at further reducing emissions from new cars to an average of 95g CO2/km by 2020.
  • Measures to promote the purchase of fuel-efficient vehicles, notably through improved labelling and by encouraging Member States that levy car taxes to base them on cars' CO2 emissions.
  • An EU code of good practice on car marketing and advertising to promote more sustainable consumption patterns. The Commission is inviting car manufacturers to sign up to this by mid-2007.

Next steps

The Commission's proposal for a revised strategy, set out in a Communication[2], represents one of the first concrete actions to implement the 2006 Energy Efficiency Action Plan.[3] It is also a direct follow-up to the Communication on combating climate change to 2020 and beyond[4] presented by the Commission as part of the energy and climate change package of measures launched on 10 January (see IP/07/29).

The Communication is addressed to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. The Commission will await their responses and implement the strategy based on these. Before proposing the legislative framework the Commission will consult widely with stakeholders on its design and undertake a thorough impact assessment.

See also : Memo/07/46


[1] This corresponds to fuel consumption of 4.5 litres per 100 km for diesel cars and 5 l/100 km for petrol cars.

[2] COM(2007) 10 of 24.01.2007 "Results of the review of the Community Strategy to reduce CO2 emissions from cars"

[3] COM(2006)545 of 19.10.2006

[4] COM(2007)2 of 10.1.2007


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