European carmakers are on track to meet their CO2 emission targets without special support, contrary to what the German government is arguing, according to green campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E).
A research paper published on 9 September by T&E found that carmakers were on track to achieve their 2015 and 2020 CO2 emission targets and did not need "legislative loopholes" such as super-credits for electric vehicles sales to meet them.
Such special treatment was being requested by the German government, “encouraged by BMW”, T&E claims.
Under the super-credit provision, carmakers could write off a certain number of their more gas guzzling cars against EU targets by producing a certain number of environmentally-friendly vehicles such as electrics or hybrids.
The report found that super-credits awarded to Nissan for selling only 2,800 electric cars in 2012 effectively reduced its target by 2 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre (g/km). “If the current trend of increasing sales of electric vehicles continues, super-credits would totally undermine the 95g/km target and result in it being met on paper but not on the road”, the report says.
The organisation has been assessing carmakers' efforts to cut CO2 emissions since 2006.
“Following the introduction of the European legislation on CO2 emissions, the annual rate of progress has tripled to 3.6%. The clear conclusion is that the targets are achievable for makers of all types and sizes of cars with appropriate planning”, says the report.
T&E clean vehicles manager, Greg Archer, said in a statement that "with appropriate planning Europe's carmakers will meet their fuel efficiency targets without resorting to accountancy tricks like supercredits. The generous supercredits, that Germany is advocating, will increase both emissions and drivers’ fuel bills. European countries must hold firm on the 2020 deal struck in June".
In June, Germany delayed a vote on EU legislation aimed at imposing stricter limits to cars' CO2 emissions from 2020.This was despite an earlier compromise agreement among EU institutions, struck on 24 June 2013, on implementing a target of 95g/km for all new EU automobiles. The new proposals were tabled the year before, in June 2012.
The European Consumers’ Organisation, BEUC, released a statement saying that “this new report by T&E clearly shows emission targets are achievable for all car producers".
"Faced with these figures, moves to weaken the deal with greater use of super-credits are inscrutable. It is welcome news that several ‘new-to-the-world’ car models with electric drive trains will be premiered at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt this week. But standard internal combustion engines will continue to dominate the market over the next decade. Only if their emissions are reduced will less well-off consumers who cannot afford electric vehicles be able to bring down the cost of driving.”
Speaking to EURACTIV earlier this year, Ivan Hoda?, the secretary-general of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), said the credits would “give industry an incentive to put the cleanest possible vehicles on the market.”
Low carbon cars were “extremely expensive to develop, the market intake is not easy and there’s no incentive financially from governments or the EU,” he said. ”So as an incentive to the industry for developing these vehicles, we see the super-credits as being one of the best means for doing that.”
Passenger cars alone are responsible for around 12% of total EU emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas.
In 2007, the EU proposed legislation setting emission performance standards for new cars, which was adopted in 2009. Under today's Cars Regulation, the fleet average to be achieved by all new cars is 130 grams of CO2 nbsp per km (g/km) by 2015 – with the target phased in from 2012.
New proposals published in 2012 have set further targets of 95g for new passenger cars by 2020, and 147 g/km for vans.
- 2014: Proposed deadline for EU decision on 2025/2030 targets
- 2015: 130 grams of CO2 per km target to be enforced across Europe
- 2020: Proposed deadline for 95g/km target for cars
- 2025: European Commission could impose another milestone on the road to decarbonsiation by 2050
- 2030: European Commission could impose another milestone on the road to decarbonsiation by 205
- DG Clima: Reducing CO2 emissions from passenger cars
- DG Enterprise: Competitive Automotive Regulatory System for the 21st Century
- CARS21: Report by High Level Group on the Competitiveness and Sustainable Growth of the Automotive Industry in the European Union