Car industry fails its own voluntary guidelines

The car industry is failing to deliver on its own voluntary agreement with the EU to cut average CO2 emissions from passenger cars, a report by the European Federation for Transport and the Environment (T&E) has found.

It calls for legislation to be passed to create legally binding limits as well as incentives to encourage innovation in low-emissions technology and help boost the market for cars that pollute less.

The European Commission and the European car industry, represented by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), reached an agreement in 1998 to achieve an average emissions figure of 140g/km by 2008 for all new passenger cars sold in the EU.

In addition, the manufacturers agreed to bring to the market individual car models with CO2 emissions of 120g/km or less by the year 2000.

However, this report makes clear that only if the industry makes emissions cuts on unprecedented scales will this target now be reached.

Speaking at the ‘Clean Cars 2010’ conference, T&E Director Jos Dings, dismissed fears that regulations to force emissions cuts would harm the European car industry: “There is plenty of evidence that well designed but strict European environmental rules for cars improve, rather than undermine the global position of the European car industry. From California to China we are now seeing stricter and stricter limits – if the European industry does not invest in innovation now, it’s going to find it harder to catch up in future.”

The report comes a week after the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for the Commission to submit legally binding limits, and a week after the Commission announced that a new ‘high-level’ group, CARS 21, had been set up to “boost the competitiveness” of the European car industry. The group has no representatives from NGOs or the Parliament’s environment committee.

It does, however, have seven representatives from industry.

“The European institutions are split down the middle on this. On the one hand, the Parliament is calling for binding limits – and at the same time the Commission has set up a severely unbalanced and undemocratic group that will effectively get to rubber-stamp all car-related policy. This is bad for the health of European citizens, bad for democracy, and bad for the environment,” Mr Dings concluded.

By David Hopkins

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