EU ministers agree 35% car emissions reduction by 2030
11 October 2018 | Mitigation
European environment ministers agreed to cut car and van carbon dioxide emissions by 35 per cent by 2030, clearing the way for negotiations on the final EU targets with the more ambitious European Parliament.
After a full day of climate negotiations, representatives from the member states met colleagues from the parliament and commission on Wednesday to start working on a compromise that will form the bloc’s 2030 rules for emissions from passenger vehicles.
Environment ministers from the 28 member states agreed that the total number of cars sold by each manufacturer in Europe must emit 35 per cent less CO2 than 2020 levels.
They also included a target of a 15 per cent CO2 cut by 2025 and an opt-out for smaller manufacturers. Some central and eastern EU countries originally resisted any increase over the initial proposal of a 30 per cent cut, but agreed to the compromise after an extra bonus for low and zero-emission vehicles sold in lower-GDP countries was added.
Well over half of EU member states had sought a cut of at least 40 per cent , but they were forced to compromise on a lower target as a coalition of Germany, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland blocked the approval of the more ambitious figure.
The auto industry is a major employer in the countries that blocked a 40 per cent reduction. However, other carmaking states, such as Spain, France and Sweden, had argued for higher targets that they said would provide the industry with a pathway and incentives to be able to better compete globally.
They argued that many manufacturers have announced sales ambitions for low-emission vehicles that exceed the targets and that European carmakers invest seven times more in electric vehicle production in China than in Europe. Just days after the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warned that nations needed to cut emissions faster, environmental campaigners suggested the council’s targets were not ambitious enough.
“Today’s decision by EU governments is disappointing for the planet,” said Greg Archer, clean vehicles director at the campaigning organisation Transport & Environment. “It shows how far the commission and some member states have shrunk from climate leadership, putting carmakers’ interests first despite the dire warning of the effects of dangerous climate change.”
However, the more ambitious member states and campaigners hope that the final rules will be closer to the parliament’s proposal than the council’s.
Last week, the European Parliament agreed much more ambitious targets — a cut in CO2 of 20 per cent by 2025, a 40 per cent reduction by 2030 and an additional binding requirement that 35 per cent of vehicles sold in 2030 should be low-emission vehicles.
Industry representatives had recommended a 20 per cent cut by 2030 and warned that more ambitious targets could lead to job losses, lower profits and a focus on electric vehicles that creates a reliance on Asia for the batteries and risks hitting the industry’s ability to innovate.
Europe’s automotive sector employs 13m people according to ACEA, the carmaker association. However, trust in the industry has been harmed by the dieselgate scandal and the continuing stream of revelations of emissions fiddling.
The EU has estimated that a 40 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 would create at least 69,000 jobs in the EU — with new jobs in the electricity and other sectors offsetting the 12,000 lost in the automotive industry. Auto and parts makers estimate higher job losses.
“This is not over,” said Mr Archer. “The forthcoming negotiations with the European Parliament can still achieve an ambitious deal that puts the EU on track towards limiting warming to 1.5 degrees and is also good for jobs, cleaner air and consumers.”