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EEA reports sharp decrease in CO2 emissions of new cars in Europe in 2020

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published its provisional data about the CO2 emissions of newly registered passenger cars and vans in Europe in 2020. For cars, the data show a 12% decrease in average cO2 emissions, compared with 2019. Average van emissions decreased slightly, by about 1.5 %.

According to the EEA’s provisional data, the average emissions of new passenger cars registered in the European Union (EU), Iceland, Norway, and the United Kingdom in 2020 were 107.8 grams of CO2 per kilometre (g CO2/km). This was 14.5 g (12%) lower than in 2019 and represented the first decrease observed since 2016.

The share of electric vehicles in new registrations tripled from about 3.5% in 2019 to about 11% of new registrations in 2020.


2020 car registrations by fuel type in Europe. Source: EEA

About 1.4 million new vans registered in Europe in 2020 with average emissions of 157.7 g CO2/km, which is 2.3 g (1.5%) lower than in 2019. The share of electric vans increased from 1.4% in 2019 to about 2.3% in 2020.

The provisional data are available through the EEA’s data viewer on CO2 emissions of new cars and new vans.

The emissions of new vehicles are systematically tested using type approval procedures. Since 2017, the new Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) has been put in place with the objective to gradually replace the outdated New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). The WLTP allows to obtain more realistic information on vehicle emissions in the type approval tests.

The European Commission will confirm whether individual manufacturers or pools have met their own specific annual targets, which are based on the average mass of the cars registered.

Responding to the publication of the data, European NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) said the sharp drop showed that ambitious EU car CO2 targets do motivate carmakers to reduce their climate impact but that tighter standards will be needed from 2025 onwards so that all new cars sold from 2035 are zero-emissions.

New car emissions were increasing as recently as two years ago, but the sharp drop last year shows that carmakers respond to CO2 standards. Some carmakers have already said when they will go fully electric, but stricter CO2 standards leading to zero-emissions are needed to ensure the whole industry phases out fossil-fuel engines by 2035.

—Lucien Mathieu, road vehicles and emobility analysis manager at T&E

The EU is expected to propose new car and van CO2 targets on 14 July.


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