Germany and UK left behind, as EU beats transport emissions target

Emissions from vans have fallen each year since 2007. [tommy japan/Flickr]

German and British vans are among the worst polluters in an increasingly fuel efficient and environmentally-friendly EU fleet, according to the European Environment Agency. 

2014 saw an 18% increase in new van registrations in the EU, with 1.4 million new vehicles on the road. These vehicles are on average 2.4% more fuel-efficient than those sold in 2013, and emit 4 grams of CO2 less per kilometre.

The average van registered in 2014 emits 169.2 grams of CO2 per kilometre, 6 grams below the EU’s 2017 target.

But Germany (190.4 g CO2/km), and the United Kingdom (181 g CO2/km), which together accounted for 36% of the EU’s new van sales in 2014, preferred models whose CO2 emissions far exceed the EU average and the 2017 target.

Overall emissions performance for new vehicles is better in the pre-2004 member states, with some notable exceptions. Models sold in Portugal (145.1 g CO2/km), Malta (145.7 g CO2/km) and Bulgaria (148.6 g CO2/km) have the lowest average CO2 emissions, while those sold in Slovakia (193.3 gCO2/km) and the Czech Republic (191.1 g CO2/km) emit the most CO2 per kilometre.

Transport is responsible for almost a quarter of Europe’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, making it the second most carbon intensive sector after energy. Over 70% of the sector’s GHG emissions come from road transport.

Since 1990, emissions have dropped across all sectors apart from transport, where they continued to rise until 2007. Improvements to vehicle fuel-efficiency have helped reverse the trend, but drastic action will be needed to reach the 2050 target of cutting the sector’s emissions by 60% compared to 1990 levels. This would require a 67% cut from 2012.

In a recent report , the World Bank concluded that Europe could become carbon neutral by 2100 if the right measures are taken. These would include implementing large-scale electrification in the transport sector, and decarbonising the production of electricity.

The vast majority (97%) of new vans sold in 2014 run on diesel, while only 0.5% are electric.

>> Read: World Bank advocates long term thinking on climate change

The transport sector has the second biggest greenhouse gas emissions in the EU, after the energy sector.

Road transport alone accounts for about one fifth of the EU’s CO2 emissions.

Transport emissions peaked in 2007, and in 2011 the EU set the target of cutting CO2 emissions from transport by 60% compared to 1990 levels.

European Environment Agency

European Commission

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