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EU Proposal To Limit The CO2 Emissions From Cars

Commission proposal to limit the CO2 emissions from cars to help fight climate change, reduce fuel costs and increase European competitiveness

The European Commission today proposed legislation to reduce the average CO2 emissions of new passenger cars to 120 grams per kilometre by 2012. The proposed legislation is the cornerstone of the EU's strategy to improve the fuel economy of cars, which account for about 12% of the European Union's carbon emissions.

The proposal further underlines the EU's leadership and determination to deliver on its greenhouse gas commitments under the Kyoto Protocol and beyond.

President of the Commission José Manuel Barroso stated: "This proposal demonstrates that the European Union is committed to being a world leader in cutting CO2 emissions and the development of a low carbon economy. At the same time, we are committed to promote the competitiveness of our industry and its global technological leadership."

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "The aim of the legislation is to reduce CO2 emissions from cars in order to help fight climate change. The legislation will also ensure important fuel savings which will translate into considerable benefits for consumers. Moreover, it will encourage the car industry to invest in new technologies and actively promote eco-innovation, which is a driver for more and high-quality jobs."

Emissions reductions

The proposal will be a major step in lowering CO2 emissions in the EU. It will reduce the average emissions of CO2 from new passenger cars in the EU from around 160 grams per kilometre to 130 grams per kilometre in 2012 as part of the EU's integrated approach to achieve overall 120 grams per kilometre. That will translate into a 19% reduction of CO2 emissions and will place the EU among the world leaders of fuel efficient cars.

Other benefits

As well as achieving environmental results, this proposal will also benefit consumers through important fuel savings. It will further improve energy security, promotes eco-innovations and high-quality jobs in the EU.

Safeguarding competitiveness through flexibility

Europe has a strong and innovative automotive sector. This proposal aims to safeguard this competitiveness through provisions which are fair and flexible and which will stimulate the development and deployment of cutting edge automotive technologies. Under the legislation, several manufacturers will be able to group together to form a pool which can act jointly in meeting the specific emissions targets. Manufacturers in this pool will be required to abide by the rules of competition law.

Independent manufacturers who sell fewer than 10,000 vehicles per year and who cannot or do not wish to join a pool can apply to the Commission for an individual target. Special purpose vehicles such as those designed to accommodate wheelchair access are excluded from the scope of the legislation.

Implementing the strategy on CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles

The review of the EU's CO2 and cars strategy[1] also envisaged a number of complementary measures which would contribute to a further emissions cut of 10g/km or equivalent, thus reducing the overall average emissions of the new car fleet sufficiently to meet the EU objective of 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. The Commission intends to come forward at a later date with proposals for efficiency requirements for such components and the carbon content of road fuels, notably through a greater use of biofuels. Both the fuel quality proposal being discussed by the EU institutions and the renewable energy directive due in January will help boost the use of biofuels in the transport sector.

How the legislation will work

The draft legislation defines a limit value curve of CO2 emissions allowed for new vehicles according to the mass of the vehicle. The curve is set in such a way that a fleet average of 130 grams of CO2 per kilometre is achieved. A manufacturer must ensure that by 2012 measured fleet average emissions are below the limit value curve, when all vehicles manufactured and registered in a given year by the manufacturer in question are taken into account. This means that the level of emissions by heavier cars will have to be improved proportionately more than lighter cars compared to today. Manufacturers will still be able to make cars with emissions above the limit value curve provided these are balanced by cars which are below the curve as long as the fleet average remains at 130 grams. Manufacturers' progress will be monitored each year by the Member States on the basis of new car registration data.

The proposal will provide manufacturers with the necessary incentive to reduce the CO2 emissions of their vehicles by imposing an excess emissions premium if their average emission levels are above the limit value curve. This premium will be based on the number of grams per kilometre (g/km) that an average vehicle sold by the manufacturer is above the curve, multiplied by the number of vehicles sold by the manufacturer. A premium of €20 per g/km has been proposed in the first year (2012), gradually rising to €35 in the second year (2013), €60 in the third year (2014) and €95 as of 2015. Most manufacturers are expected to meet the target set by the legislation, so significant penalties should be avoided.

Next steps

The proposal will now be communicated to the Council and to the European Parliament as part of the co-decision legislative procedure.

Further information can be obtained at:


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