UK car emissions falling slowly

Posted: 8 January 2008

Average carbon dioxide emissions from new cars sold in the UK in 2007 fell by 1.4 per cent it was announced yesterday. But environmental campaigners said this was not nearly enough.

Friends of the Earth's Senior Transport Campaigner Tony Bosworth commented: "These figures show another year of poor progress in cutting new car emissions. Average emissions have fallen slightly, but nowhere near the levels required and the industry will miss its 2008 emissions target by a mile.

"Car companies must do much more to tackle climate change, instead of fighting tooth and nail against new EU proposals. What we need is more action and less self-interested lobbying".

The European car industry made a voluntary agreement with the EU in 1997 to reduce average emissions from new cars sold to no more than 140 grammes of carbon dioxide per kilometre (g/km CO2) by 2008. In the UK, average emissions have fallen from 189.8g/km in 1997 to 164.9g/km in 2007: exactly half the progress needed ten years into an 11 year agreement.

Key issues

The EU is deciding what should follow the current voluntary agreement. The car industry has accepted that there will be mandatory targets, but is lobbying hard for these to be weaker than is needed. The three key issues to be decided are:

  • The Commission seems almost certain to ndorse its earlier communication and propose that car manufacturers should reduce emissions to an average of 130g/km CO2 by 2012 by vehicle technology measures. A further 10g/km of reductions will come from other measures such as using biofuels and better quality tyres.

  • Friends of the Earth believes that the target should be 120g/km by 2012 from vehicle technology alone. The 120g/km target was first agreed by the EU in 1995, to be met by 2005, or 2010 at the latest. The deadline was moved back to 2012 when the voluntary agreement was reached. This target must not be weakened further.

  • Green groups are also calling for a longer-term target to be set at this stage, aiming to reduce average emissions to no more than 80g/km CO2 by 2020. This will give the industry a clear steer about the reductions it must make in the next 13 years which is critical given the length of lead times in the car industry between design and production. At the moment it is not clear whether the Commission's proposal will lay down a medium-to-long term target.
Related links

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