Commission divided over best approach Environment and Industry Commissioners have been locked in fierce discussions over whether the main responsibility to reduce CO2 should lie with carmakers – as is the case with the current voluntary commitments – or whether it should be shared out among all stakeholders.
Binding CO2 emission caps for carmakers? Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas wants to enshrine a 120g/km limit on average CO2 emissions from new cars from 2012 in binding EU legislation.
But, Enterprise and Industry Commissioner Günter Verheugen says that such a measure would unfairly penalise manufacturers of large and high-performance vehicles.
Indeed, the chances of premium car and SUV manufacturers, such as Jaguar, Land Rover and Porsche meeting a 120 g/km limit within the next five years are virtually non-existent with present technologies.
According to the green NGO Transport & Environment (T&E), just four European manufacturers (Fiat, Citroen, Renault and Peugeot) are currently on track to meet the 2008 target of 140 g/km.
An integrated approach? The automotive industry argues that more can be achieved on reducing CO2 from road transport by applying a shared approach that would involve tyre-makers, fuel suppliers, repairers, drivers and public authorities as well as vehicle manufacturers.
Rather than focusing on improvements in car technology alone, it wants the Commission to take measures to promote the use of alternative fuels, introduce CO2-based taxation of vehicles and fuels, create programmes to change consumers’ driving habits and introduce traffic-control systems to avoid congestion.
A compromise solution? The Commission could decide to set a legally binding target of 125-130 grammes per kilometre by 2012. The remaining cuts would be achieved by supplementary measures, such as tougher controls on air-conditioning systems, stricter tyre regulations and programmes for promoting more carbon-efficient driving techniques.
Inclusion of cars in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme? In recent statements, Industry Commissioner Verheugen has voiced the opinion that the extension of the EU’s carbon trading scheme to the automotive sector could provide a solution. The scheme allows industry to buy and sell allowances to emit CO2. Proposals to extend the system to aviation are also currently being examined by Council and Parliament.