The Environment Committee backed a target for emissions from passenger cars of 120g of carbon dioxide per kilometre from 2012 in a vote on Thursday. It also opted for a new long-term target of 95g CO2/km for 2020. Committee MEPs rejected proposals for transitional measures for the car industry until 2015. From 2012, car manufacturers exceeding the targets will have to pay fines - "excess emissions premiums" - for every excess gram of CO2.The vote, based on a report drawn up by Guido Sacconi (PES, IT),concerned a draft regulation which sets emission performance standards for new passenger cars (the"M1" category) registered in the EU. These account for 12%of overall EU emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, according to European Commission's figures. The new regulation is part of theEU's effort to reduce CO2 emissions by 20%by 2020.
The Commission had proposed that the targets should only be applied to cars with a reference mass of less than 2 610 kg, but the Environment Committee voted to include heavier cars as well.
120g CO2/km by 2012, 95g/km by 2020
A large majority of Environment Committee MEPs backed the Commission's target of an average of 120g of CO2/km for the whole car industry by 2012, compared to the current levels of160g/km. A target of 130g/kmisto be reached byimprovements in vehicle motor technology.A further 10g/km reduction, to reach the 120g/km target should beobtained by using other technical improvements such as better tyres or the use of biofuels.
In line with Parliament's resolution of 24 October 2007, MEPs have agreedto set along-term target of average emissions of no more than 95g CO2 per km as from 1 January 2020, by means of improvement in vehicle motor technology. No such target was included in the Commission's proposal. The European Commission, says the committee,will have to present a new proposalby 31 December 2014setting average emissions from 2020 at no more than 95g/km. That proposalmustbe preceded by an overall assessment of the impact on the car industry and its allied industries, coupled with a cost-benefit analysis, taking into account the development of technological innovations for CO2 reduction.
Excess emissions premiums
The committee rejected (by 23 votes in favour with 39 against and two abstentions) an amendment which would have allowedtransitional measures for the car industryto be phased in. That amendment would have given manufacturers interim targets ofensuring that average CO2 emissions of 70% of their fleets in both 2012 and 2013, 80% in 2014 and 100% from 2015, comply withthe car manufacturer's specific CO2 emissions target.
MEPs also rejected the idea of fixing at€50 the "excess emissions premiums" manufacturers will have to pay for eachgram of carbon dioxide over the target. Instead the committee supported the Commission's proposal gradually toincrease these fines from €20 in 2012 to€95 from 2015.
The EU should invest these revenues in the development of zero emissions cars and other technological innovations which reduce vehicle CO2 emissions, say MEPs.
Mass vs footprint: how to calculate CO2 targets
The committee maintained the calculation of the CO2 target based on vehicle mass, but wants the Commission to study alternative parameters such as footprint, i.e. track-width times wheelbase.
Take account of eco-innovations
Another amendment adopted by the committee stipulates that car manufacturers can apply to be given special credits for eco-innovations - that is innovative CO2 reducing technologies on the car, such as energy efficient lights, which are currently not included in the normal test cycle. The credit associated with a technology shall be no higher than 75% of the real-world CO2 reduction.
Special targets for small independent manufacturers
MEPs agree with the Commission on allowing small independent manufacturers which produce less than 10.000 new registered cars per year to be released from their specific emissions targets.
By adding a new provision, the committee gives larger independent car manufacturers - producing 10,000 to 300,000 new registered cars per year - the chance to apply for an alternative target of reducingtheir average specific emissions by 25 per centcompared to 2006 levels.
Regulation to be part of EU environment legislation
Following the advice of Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee, MEPs agreed that the regulation should be adoptedunder the environment heading (Treaty Article 175) and not undersingle market rules (Article 95) as originally proposed by the Commission. MEPs believe that article 175 would better serve the aim of the legislation and allows premiums to be imposed to make it more effective.
The report was adopted by 46 votes in favour with 19 against. -- First reading in plenary: October or November (tbc) in Strasbourg