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European Parliament Environment Committee Holds Firm on 2012 CO2 Reduction Target for New Cars

The Environment Committee of the European Parliament today voted 46-19 to hold to an average target of 120g of carbon dioxide per kilometer from new passenger cars (the M1 category) by 2012. It also voted for a new long-term target of 95g CO2/km for 2020. The current level is around 160 g/km.

Of the 120 g/km target, 130 g/km is to be reached by improvements in vehicle motor technology. The further 10 g/km reduction is to be obtained by using other technical improvements such as better tires or the use of biofuels.

CO2 Targets and Fuel Economy Equivalents
The amount of CO2 produced by fuel combustion depends on the carbon content of the fuel. In calculating CO2 emissions, the US EPA uses a Federal standard of:
  • 2,421 g carbon per gallon gasoline
  • 2,778 g carbon per gallon diesel
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) guidelines for calculating emissions inventories require that an oxidation factor be applied to the carbon content to account for a small portion of the fuel that is not oxidized into CO2. EPA currently uses an oxidation factor of 0.99 (99% of the carbon in the fuel is eventually oxidized, while 1% remains un-oxidized.)
To calculate the CO2 emissions from a gallon of fuel, EPA multiplies carbon emissions by the ratio of the molecular weight of CO2 (m.w. 44) to the molecular weight of carbon (m.w.12): 44/12. This results in:
  • 8,788 gCO2/gallon gasoline
  • 10,084 gCO2/gallon diesel
Applied to the total 120g EP target, this would result in approximate equivalent fuel consumption of:
  • 5.19 L/100km (45 mpg US) gasoline
  • 4.5 L/100km (52 mpg US) diesel
Applied to the 130g motor vehicle technology target, this would result in approximate equivalent vehicle fuel consumption of:
  • 5.60 L/100km (42 mpg US) gasoline
  • 4.88 L/100km (48 mpg US) diesel
Applied to the current 160 g/km average, this results in approximate equivalent vehicle fuel consumption of:
  • 6.89 L/100km (34 mpg US) gasoline
  • 6.02 L/100km (39 mpg US) diesel

Members of Parliament (MEPs) in the committee rejected proposals for transitional measures for the car industry until 2015. Car manufacturers exceeding the targets will have to pay fines—“excess emissions premiums”—from 2012 for every excess gram of CO2.

The vote, based on a report drawn up by Guido Sacconi (PES, IT), concerned a draft regulation on passenger cars, which account for 12% of overall EU emissions of CO2, according to European Commission figures. The new regulation setting standards for new passenger cars (the M1 category) is part of the EU’s effort to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020.

The European Commission had proposed that the targets should only be applied to cars with a reference mass of less than 2,610 kg, but the Environment Committee voted to include heavier cars as well.

In line with Parliament’s resolution of 24 October 2007, MEPs agreed to set a long-term target of average emissions of no more than 95 gCO2/km as from 1 January 2020 by means of improvement in vehicle motor technology. No such target was included in the Commission’s proposal. The European Commission, says the committee, will have to present a new proposal by 31 December 2014 setting average emissions from 2020 at no more than 95 g/km. That proposal must be preceded by an overall assessment of the impact on the car industry and its allied industries, coupled with a cost-benefit analysis, taking into account the development of technological innovations for CO2 reduction.

The committee rejected (by 23 votes in favor with 39 against and two abstentions) an amendment which would have allowed transitional measures for the car industry with a gradual of the 2012 target. That amendment would have given manufacturers interim targets of ensuring average CO2 emissions of 70% of its fleet in both 2012 and 2013, and 80% of its fleet in 2014 complying with the car manufacturer’s specific CO2 emissions target.

MEPs equally rejected the idea of fixing at €50 (US$73) the “excess emissions premiums” manufacturers will have to pay for each gram of carbon dioxide over the target. Instead the committee supported the Commission’s proposal gradually to increase these fines from €20 (US$29) in 2012 to €95 (US$139) from 2015. The EU is to invest these revenues in the development of zero emissions cars and other technological innovations which reduce vehicle CO2 emissions.

The committee maintained the calculation of the CO2 target based on vehicle mass but wants the Commission to study alternative parameters such as footprint—i.e. track-width times wheelbase.

Another amendment adopted by the committee stipulates that car manufacturers can apply to be given special credits for eco-innovations—innovative CO2-reducing technologies on the car, such as energy efficient lights—which are currently not included in the normal test cycle. The credit associated with a technology shall be no higher than 75% of the real-world CO2 reduction.

MEPs agreed with the Commission on allowing small independent manufacturers which produce less than 10,000 new registered cars per year to be released from their specific emissions targets. A new provision gives larger independent car manufacturers—producing 10,000 to 300,000 new registered cars per year—the chance to apply for an alternative target of reducing their average specific emissions by 25% compared to 2006 levels.

Following the advice of Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee, MEPs agreed that the CO2 directive should be adopted under the environment chapter (Article 175 of the Treaty) and not under article single market rules (Article 95) as originally proposed by the Commission. MEPs believe that article 175 would better serve the aim of the legislation and allows premiums to be imposed to make it more effective.

First reading in the plenary of the Parliament will be in October.



Karl-Uwe Strunzen

I hope nobody really thinks that any of this is actually going to stick. In 2007 on three occasions the almighty German lobby group got exactly what they wanted in Bruxelles, so there is no reason to think that this time will be any different:

If the all-encompassing German mafia groups should fail, then no doubt the Reich shall resurge and overcome these do-gooders in an instant !!!!


Germany's car manufacturers have been trailing behind the German population for years with regards to greener environment.

Can a few manufacturers continue to buck peoples wishes forever?

The Big-3 did that for decades but their customers are wakening up fast.

stas peterson

Politicians aiming at one target and hitting a innocent bystander is the usual measure of government effectiveness, and this no different

EU get of your asses and cleanup the genuine toxic emissions! Stop poisoning your citizens.


They are dead right - it is having an effect already, and even if you don't believe in GW, we are getting more efficient cars as a result.

[ Or cars that are very good at the EU Co2 test ]

The only downside is that the practical effect of this is to move larger cars to diesel, which causes a lot of local pollution.

[ Smaller cars can hit the targets on gasoline, for anything larger than a Ford Fiesta, you really need diesel. ]

Plus, who gets the credit for improved tires ? - I would assume the car makers grab it as all cars sold in the EU are already fitted with tires - they are not optional (!)

- Stas - what emissions are you referring to ?


@Karl-Uwe Strunzen: if you want to speak about lobbying: the most powerfull lobby in the EU commission is... Friens of the earth, Greenpeace, WWF. It's the same with GMO crops: EU standpoint is always the same as greenpeace's.



Smaller cars can hit the targets on gasoline, for anything larger than a Ford Fiesta, you really need diesel.

The current Prius has a rating of 104 g/km, nearly achieving the 2020 goal of 95 g/km. The 2009 Prius will probably be below 95 g/km, 11 years ahead of that target. So it seems this statement is not quite correct.


@Anne: a Prius is not a large car. Your statement is not correct.
Anyhow diesel fuel is heavier and has more energy in it as it has around 16 carbon atoms, while gasoline only has around 6 to 8. It will always be used for larger vehicles and trucks. Maybe we need a car on heavy fuel to make it even more efficient (joke).
(I am not gonna explain to treehuggers what heavy fuel is)


You are right, medium hybrids such as the Prius achieve it as well.
So I should have said ... "you need diesel or hybrid".

Hybrids are rather expensive in Europe, and so people buy diesel, which has about 50% of the market.

Hybrids have 2-3% of the US market, while diesels have about 50% of the European market, which suggests diesels are currently a better fit to people's requirements.

In the future, I expect hybrids (of all types) to get a lot better and take more market share, but right now, in Europe, the transition has been to diesel.

The good news is that the EU has not said HOW to get the CO2 down, which makes for an interesting contest between the technologies.

If oil goes to $200 / barrel, people in Europe will care a lot less than the people in the US - we are at least trying to build a high efficiency economy, under the ruse of GW.

Karl-Uwe Strunzen

... and there we have it: the Reich, as always, can overcome any difficulty at the snapping of a finger:

"The committee maintained the calculation of the CO2 target based on vehicle mass..."
This is equivalent to maintaining the status quo, or not doing anything. I'm not sure that people really understand that the EU is nothing more than a little toy for Germany to play with, while the EU parliament can be bought by Angela Merkel with what is only pocket money for her......

The above mass-based measure in Bruxelles would become the only such measure in europe. 11 european countries already have CO2-based measures, but NONE are mass-based:

I hope I have convinced readers of the great power of the German fatherland!


Yes these Germans with their stinky nationalistic proud that "their car industry is the best in world" are going to torpedo that vote through lobbying of the car industry. Shame on them, they baned nuclear energy which is the cleanest energy today and they fight for maintaining their right to manufacture big, heavy and polluting cars that threaten the climate and maintain our addiction to oil.



It may be wise to compare average CO2 emission per KM (2008) for light vehicles before pitching blames:

1) USA & Cal = 250g/Km
2) Canada = 220g/Km
3) Australia = 200g/Km
4) China = 175g/Km
5) EU = 155g/Km
6) Japan = 130g/Km

Karl-Uwe Strunzen

I'm not sure how interesting the fact that the EU average is much better than the US average can be.

Perhaps the kind of info one needs to keep one's bearings on the matter is stuff like:

(1) the EU has a LEGAL OBLIGATION to make large CO2 reductions in what now is a short time

(2) other sectors, such as housing or household goods, also need to be addressed to deal with the CO2 problem, but automotive reductions are an obvious target. THis is because automotive transportation is responsible for a large portion of CO2 emisions in europe, and these reductions can be so easily reduced. This is linked to the fact that a lot of these emissions are made for futile reasons. As an example, countries such as Spain and France, which have introduced penalties for the purchase of SUVs, have seen sizeable CO2 reductions in a matter of a FEW MONTHS ONLY (the measures were introduced in January 2008)

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