The European Parliament has approved a draft law to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from new cars by 20 per cent by 2025 and 40 per cent by 2030.
The proposal, a hard-won compromise between environmentalists and auto industry advocates, would reduce emissions from petrol and diesel cars and an increased focus on electric cars. MEPs set a target of 30 per cent of new car and van sales to be electric by 2030.
One amendment passed by the parliament concerned a bonus system, whereby companies would be allowed a lower CO2 reduction target if they produced a certain proportion of electric cars.
However, if manufacturers fail to produce enough electric vehicles to meet the proposal’s benchmark, they would be obliged to reduce emissions beyond the 40 per cent target in order to compensate.
Carbon emissions from cars and vans have been a contentious subject of discussion in Europe since 2015, when Volkswagen was found to have rigged diesel engines to pass emissions tests. Many diesels were subsequently discovered to be more pollutant than had been believed. Some cities recommended banning older diesels altogether; while the Danish government recently proposed a full ban on new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.
Having been approved by the European Parliament, the proposal will be discussed further by environment ministers for Member States on Tuesday. A final decision is unlikely to be reached before December, as the European Commission and the Council for Europe will still need to approve the plan before it comes into effect.
Voting on the proposal and its amendments yielded close results, with centre-left MEP Miriam Dalli filmed biting her nails as the results were announced. Environmental groups had been pushing for stronger regulation to reduce emissions faster and in greater proportions; meanwhile, car manufacturers questioned the feasibility of such strong targets and raised the question of potential job losses.
Erik Jonnaert, Secretary General of the ACEA European car producers’ group, called the 40 per cent target “over the top”.