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EU: Proposal for post-2020 CO2 targets for cars and vans

9 November 2017

On 8 November 2017, the European Commission presented a legislative proposal setting new CO2 emission standards for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles (vans) in the European Union for the period after 2020. The proposed targets are set for the EU-wide average emissions of new cars and vans in a given calendar year from 2025 on, with stricter targets applying from 2030. The proposal also includes a mechanism to incentivise the uptake of zero- and low-emission vehicles. The proposed framework builds on the current Regulations setting CO2 emission standards for cars and vans which will be repealed on 1 January 2020.

Targets. For 2025, targets for cars and vans are 15% lower than in 2021. Average emissions of the EU fleet of new cars in 2030 will have to be 30% lower than in 2021. For the EU fleet of new vans in 2030, the reduction also amounts to 30%.

In order to provide for the transition from the current to the future framework, the proposal also includes the already established EU fleet wide targets for 2020/2021 of 95 g CO2/km for passenger cars and 147 g CO2/km for light commercial vehicles, both of which are based on the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) test procedure. Starting from 2021, the emission targets will be based on the new emissions test procedure, the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), which was introduced on 1 September 2017. As the WLTP test procedure will be phased in over the next years, the newly proposed 2025 and 2030 fleet wide targets are not defined as absolute values (in g CO2/km), but expressed as percentage reductions compared to the average of the specific emission targets for 2021. While the proposed Regulation applies to all passenger cars and light commercial vehicles newly registered in the Union, manufacturers responsible for less than 1000 new registrations per year are exempt from the CO2 targets. Not all manufacturers have to meet the same target. Instead, the EU-wide fleet target set is distributed among the manufacturers on the basis of the average test mass of all new cars or vans in a manufacturer's fleet. This approach is in line with the current Regulations.

Incentive Mechanism. The proposed framework combines CO2 targets for 2025 and 2030 with an incentive mechanism for zero- and low-emission vehicles. The incentive covers both zero-emission vehicles such as battery electric or fuel cell vehicles and low-emission vehicles having tailpipe emissions of less than 50 g CO2 per km—these are mainly plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Manufacturers achieving a share of zero- and low-emission vehicles, which is higher than the proposed benchmark level of 15% in 2025 and 30% in 2030, will be rewarded in the form of a less strict CO2 target. For determining that share, account is taken of the emission performance of the vehicles concerned. As a consequence, a zero-emission vehicle is counted more than a low-emission vehicle.

Oversight. The proposed framework introduces market surveillance mechanisms. The collection, publication, and monitoring of real world fuel consumption data is foreseen. This will be based on an obligation for manufacturers to fit standardised 'fuel consumption measurement devices' in new vehicles.

Moreover, in-service conformity checks will be introduced to ensure that the vehicles on the road perform as those approved during type-approval. In case of deviations, correction mechanisms allow for these deviations to be taken into account during the compliance assessment.

The Commission, supported by the European Environment Agency (EEA), publishes every year the monitoring data of the preceding calendar year including manufacturer-specific CO2 performance calculations. This well-established monitoring system constitutes the basis for annual compliance assessment.

In case a manufacturer (or pool) exceeds its specific emissions target, the Commission shall issue a penalty of 95 EUR per g CO2/km of exceedance for each newly registered vehicle of the manufacturer (or pool) concerned in that year. The proposal also includes:

The legislative proposal has been submitted to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions for further consideration under the ordinary legislative procedure. The public has the possibility to provide feedback on the legislative proposal after it was adopted by the European Commission.

On the same day, AECC published a position pointing out the need to account for: 1) greenhouse gases generated by the production and delivery of the fuel or electricity to the vehicle, 2) greenhouse gases created during the manufacture, maintenance and recycling of the vehicle and 3) other greenhouse gases such as methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O).

The ACEA welcomed the timing of the 2030 target but stated the 30% reduction level proposed by the Commission is also overly challenging. The European auto industry considers a 20% reduction by 2030 for cars to be achievable at a high, but acceptable, cost. They also stated that setting an additional target already in 2025 – just a few years after the 2021 targets – does not leave enough time to make the necessary technical and design changes to vehicles, in particular to light commercial vehicles given their longer development and production cycles.

Transport and Environment stated that the 30% reduction covers less than a third of the road transport emission cuts that are needed by 2030. As a result, EU countries will have to resort to much more difficult measures such as restricting traffic, banning combustion cars or very steep fuel tax increases. They also stated that while the proposal includes provisions to better monitor real-world fuel consumption it fails to include an effective system to ensure emissions cuts are delivered on the road instead of through laboratory tests.

Source: European Commission