EU figures on transport emissions ‘hot air’, says T&E

A new European Environment Agency (EEA) report on vehicle carbon emissions figures for 2016 has been labelled "hot air" by green transport group Transport & Environment (T&E), as the research reportedly does not reflect "the reality on our roads".

The emissions data on vehicle emissions testing, published by the EEA last week, reveals that new cars sold in the EU are increasingly fuel-efficient, with the average CO2 emissions 3% lower in 2015 than in the previous year. New vehicles sold in 2015 emitted, on average, 119.6g CO2/km – more than 10g CO2/km below the 2015 target, according to the reported emissions from national authorities.

But Brussels-based T&E claims these figures are ”worthless” because the testing system is discredited. The group says the fall in emissions is largely achieved through manufacturers manipulating the outdated tests, meaning the reported savings are vastly inaccurate

T&E has warned that progress on CO2 reductions will continue to stagnate under current guidelines, unless the European Commission immediately tables regulations for a new test to be carried out by independent testing organisations next year.

T&E clean vehicles director Greg Archer said: “Official figures on carmakers’ new car CO2 emissions are hot air. Most of the measured improvement is being delivered through manipulating tests, not real-world reductions.

“The chasm between the reported data and reality makes today’s announcement worthless. Without a new test conducted by genuinely independent testing bodies, drivers will continue to be misled while the planet warms.”

The EU’s first obligatory rules on carbon emissions require car manufacturers to limit their average car to a maximum of 130g CO2/km by 2015, and 95g CO2/km by 2021. T&E has stated that, as a consequence, test manipulation has contributed to average emissions achieving the target two years early.

‘Real concerns’

The disparity between test cycle and ‘real-world’ emissions of vehicles is of equal concern to the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP), an industry group that works to develop improved models and analysis of the real-world carbon impact of road transport.

A LowCVP spokesperson told edie: “We know from accurate fuel sales data that there have been real reductions in CO2 emissions rates from the UK’s road transport sector of more than 5% over the last decade, despite the increasing average age of the vehicle parc.

“While the UK economy has grown, carbon emissions have fallen from road transport, with new vehicle technology providing much of that benefit. The impact of the ULEV [ultra-low emission vehicle] market will rapidly improve the emissions as many more vehicles come into the parc.

“Test-cycle data gives a comparison year to year. However, there remain real concerns about the disparity between test cycle and ‘real-world’ emissions of cars. Policymakers and industry are working together to introduce a new test that better reflects drivers’ experience of real world fuel efficiency and the LowCVP is leading work to clearly present this information to consumers.”

EEA were contacted by edie for a response, but we had not received a reply at the time of publication.

Go Ultra Low

An initial  deal to reduce car emissions  was signed by European lawmakers back in February – legislation which technically still allows vehicles to exceed official pollution limits. The European Commission vote was cast in the wake of a political storm in Europe, caused by Volkswagen’s admission in September that it cheated US diesel emissions tests.

Research from the UK Government’s Go Ultra Low campaign 12 months’ ago showed that £2.6bn-worth of potential fuel savings were being missed out on by fleet managers not opting for an ultra-low emission van. That study found that nearly half of the 3.7 million vans on UK roads could take advantage of the £1,459 per vehicle annual saving on the cost of fuel when compared to diesel.

Greening your fleet at edie Live 2016

Whether from logistics and operational vehicles or company cars, fleet emissions can contribute significantly to an organisation’s carbon footprint. From driver management to electric vehicles, the edie Live 2016 exhibition at the NEC Birmingham in May will address the approaches and options available to reduce impact, cut carbon and green your fleet.

Find out more about edie Live 2016 and register to attend for free here.

George Ogleby

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