Proposed EU targets for the CO2 emissions of new cars are too strict, claim chiefs
Analysis of new CO2 targets
Earlier this month, Eumember governments agreed that by 2030 car makers selling in the region would have to cut CO2 emissions (improve fuel economy) from the cars they sell by 35% from 2021 levels. The cut also needs to be 15% lower by 2025.
That target was already tough at 95g/km of CO2, but that would fall to around 62g/km by 2030. Only by electrifying a good proportion of their vehicles will car makers achieve that.
There’s still some wrangling between the governments, the European Commission lawmaking body and the elected European parliament before it goes to a final vote, likely in January next year, but it’s not expected to be watered down.
What we don’t know is whether the UK will be included in those targets once it has left the EU. The UK did participate in the October vote and, along with 16 other countries, actually pushed for a tougher cut of 40%.
Given the UK government’s apparent zeal for wanting to move towards electrification (notwithstanding its recently announced end to plug-in hybrid grants), we should assume that the UK is either part of the EU target or at least operating in parallel.
The car makers were none too happy. Their European lobbying organisation, ACEA, had previously suggested 20% as being a fair drop from 2021 levels, and only then conditional on there being a “real market uptake” on electric cars.
Instead, the target is nearly twice as tough and includes a quota of 35% of zero- and low-emission cars by 2030. Car makers can relax their CO2 target by meeting a benchmark share of low-emission vehicles.
ACEA secretary general Erik Jonnaert warned it would impact jobs as demand for locally built combustion engines dropped and said the pace of change was too fast. “It would essentially force the industry into a dramatic transformation in record time,” he said, which suggests the sweeping promises of electrification made by Europe’s car makers aren’t as advanced as they have been claiming.
The EU wants to both cut CO2 levels but also return Europe to the forefront of automotive innovation. An assessment into the likely impact of the CO2 reduction published by the European Commission last year said reduction standards have been a “fundamental tool” to push for innovation in low-carbon technologies. “But today, the EU is no longer the clear leader in this race, with the US, Japan, South Korea and China moving ahead very quickly,” it said. The assessment also concluded that the fuel savings would outweigh the extra cost of electrification.
One interesting development was that the EU governments voted to keep the so-called
The UK and 16 other countries pushed for a tougher cut of 40%
derogation, or relaxed targets, for manufacturers selling fewer than 300,000 vehicles annually in Europe. This helps Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), as well as Suzuki, Mazda, Honda and Mitsubishi, and stays despite a recommendation from the European Commission that it be dropped for the 2030 targets.
It was saved after lobbying from Slovakia (where JLR has its new plant) and Hungary (home of Suzuki’s manufacturing in Europe) but, interestingly, the UK didn’t lobby for it. “The UK focus was on trying to get an ambitious proposal rather than try to push for derogation,” said Greg Archer, director of clean vehicles at European green pressure group Transport & Environment.
The derogation is an enormous help to JLR, which needs to hit a CO2 target of 132g/km by 2021.
COST OF TOUGHER CO2 TARGETS OVER THE CAR’S LIFETIME Total savings €802 €903 €878 €565
Cars like the I-pace EV will be vital for Jaguar to meet CO2 targets