BELGIUM: EU 2020 CO2 emissions target deal struck

By Dave Leggett | 26 June 2013

The EU's parliament has struck a deal on future CO2 car emissions targets that also includes what some are seeing as concessions for Germany, which has reportedly been lobbying hard on behalf of its premium carmakers.

The agreement confirms the 95g/km by 2020 target for new cars sold in the EU, down from 130g in 2015. It also highlights the need for a target beyond 2020, with a reduction rate in line with the EU's climate goals. 

"I am happy that we could confirm the 95g target. I also think we have found a good balance on super-credits. We agreed to have an impact assessment in order to establish a post-2020 target. The Commission assured me that they would provide such an assessment in good time", said rapporteur Thomas Ulmer (EPP, DE).

"On the test cycle, I am happy that we could agree on having a new test cycle as soon as feasible but not later than 2017. With regard to consumer protection, I hope that it can be applied as soon as possible".

Some are seeing the inclusion of 'super-credit' weightings as a concession to Germany that means offsets against high-emission vehicles are allowed for electric and other low CO2 vehicles such as hybrids. The super-credits had been due for phase-out in 2016. The agreement provides for super-credit weightings for each manufacturer's cleaner cars (50g threshold) from 2020 to 2023.

Under the emissions caps, the entire range of models sold by each carmaker must have average emissions of no more than 95g/km. German premium OEMs have been keen supporters of the super-credits that allow them to mitigate high emissions from some of their range with credits earned from electric or hybrid-electric vehicles. That has met with criticism from environmental groups, as it means the average will actually be higher than the overall target. Some media reports have suggested that intensive German lobbying has focused on bailout countries' MEPs.

Another development is on measuring fuel consumption. The new UN-defined World Light Duty Test Procedure (WLTP) should come into force at the earliest opportunity, the EU text says. The European Commission is to indicate its support for a 2017 deadline. The WLTP better reflects the real conditions in which cars are used.

MEPs noted that recent studies show that manufacturers have exploited weaknesses in the current procedure for testing the environmental performance of cars, with the result that official consumption and emission figures are far from those achieved in everyday driving conditions.

The deal is still subject to final approval. ACEA stressed the need for final approval.

“This is an important milestone in the negotiations, but there still is some way to go before a final agreement is voted in the plenary of the European Parliament,” said Ivan Hodac, ACEA Secretary General.

“At this stage we would simply like to stress once again that if super-credits are to achieve their aim of fostering innovation and bringing ultra low-emission vehicles to the market, they need to be applied in a more meaningful way, as is the case in other regions of the world. It is in everyone’s interest to get clean vehicles on the roads, and super-credits are the only EU-wide incentive to help put on the market today the technologies of the future.”

Hodac added: “Today Europe’s auto industry delivers vehicles with the highest environmental standards in the world, and we are committed to continue doing so. However, it is only reasonable to first conduct proper impact assessments before fixing targets for beyond 2020 to ensure that such targets can be both ambitious and feasible.”