EU’s decisive moment for clean cars

A key parliamentary committee will vote votes on the revision of the EU's car and van CO2 standards on 11 May.

One year after the EC’s Fit for 55, the lead committees of the European Parliament will vote to adopt key Fit for 55 proposals, including the CO2 standards that are the main tool to decarbonise cars in Europe.

Under the EC proposal, carmakers will have to reduce by 55 per cent the climate damaging CO2 emissions from their new cars from 2030 (and 50 per cent for vans), before going fully emissions-free from 2035 onwards.

Following the entry into force of the 2020/21 targets, electric cars entered the mass market much faster than previously expected, reaching 18 per cent of new sales last year. Analysis by Transport & Environment (T&E) also shows that by continuing to ramp up electric car and van production, via higher targets earlier (during the 2020s), EVs would be cheaper to buy than equivalent petrol models by 2026, with high battery metal costs delaying this by a few years but not changing the trend.

MEPs have been divided over the changes they would like to see to the proposal. Some MEPs tabled amendments that would accelerate the pace of CO2 reductions with higher targets proposed for 2025, 2027 and 2030, with some even proposing to bring forward the 100 per cent target to 2030. However another bloc of MEPs have proposed lower targets - even compared to the Commission’s numbers - including deleting or decreasing the target in 2035. Some MEPs also proposed changing the scope of the regulation to allow carmakers to comply with their targets by purchasing credits for synthetic- and bio-fuels.

The ambition of Europe’s Green Deal will be determined over the coming weeks as the Fit for 55 package process goes from European Parliament Committees for a Plenary vote in Parliament, and then to Trilogue negotiations with the Council. At any stage, Europe’s ambition to decarbonise transport could be strengthened or weakened.

T&E commented: “Cars and vans together are responsible for 15 per cent of all Europe’s climate warming emissions. They are also the single largest source of toxic nitrogen dioxide pollution, which cuts short the lives of over 40,000 Europeans every year. With the review of the EU car and van CO2 emissions standards, policy makers have the power to decide when and how fast the journey to emissions-free road transport will happen in Europe.”

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