European Commission proposes 30% reduction in emissions by 2030

08 November 2017

European Commission proposes 30% reduction in emissions by 2030

08 November 2017

In proposals that have been eagerly awaited, the European Commission has announced that it seeks to further reduce light vehicle emissions by 30% by the year 2030 compared to the targets set for 2021. Furthermore, a 15% reduction by the year 2025 has been proposed as an interim target.

The new proposals are essentially intended to meet the targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement but the reduction in emissions will only be achievable with a significant acceleration of the uptake in pure electric and low-emission vehicles - essentially plug-in hybrids. Acknowledging this, the Commission previously announced plans to invest €800 million in supporting the expansion of the charging network and a further €200 million for battery development. However, the Commission has refused to commit to binding quotas for electric vehicles and is opting instead for a credit system, whereby carmakers will have to meet less stringent CO2 targets if 15% of their vehicles sold emit less than 50 grams CO2 per kilometre by 2025 and at least 30% are below this level by 2030. Zero-emission cars, i.e. fully electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles will earn the carmakers more credits but there are no plans to penalise OEMs which do not meet the 15% and 30% thresholds which would qualify them for credits.

A decision on the proposals is expected imminently, which could yet lead to further negotiations, and the Commission is clear on this point, with a spokeswoman commenting that: ‘The Council will discuss the figures, but nothing is decided yet.’ Even if the proposals pass this first stage, they still need the approval of EU governments and the European Parliament, which could take more than a year. EU member states which rely heavily on the automotive sector, such as Germany, have already expressed objections.

ACEA, the European carmakers’ association, has already responded to the latest Commission proposals. In a press release, ACEA states that it ‘welcomes the fact that the date for the new targets has been set for 2030’ with ACEA Secretary General Erik Jonnaert commenting: ‘This is consistent with the timings already agreed by the EU heads of states with the 2030 Climate and Energy Framework.’ The release continues: ‘However, setting an additional target already in 2025 – just a few years after the 2021 targets – does not leave enough time to make the necessary technical and design changes to vehicles, in particular to light commercial vehicles given their longer development and production cycles.’

ACEA has called for the targeted reduction in emissions to be set at 20%: ‘The 30% reduction level proposed by the Commission is also overly challenging, going beyond the ambition level set out in the Climate and Energy Framework and in its own 2016 impact assessment, which specifies what is needed to deliver on COP21. In line with this, the European auto industry considers a 20% reduction by 2030 for cars to be achievable at a high, but acceptable, cost.’

Although ACEA naturally supports the investment in Europe’s charging infrastructure, it does also highlight that ‘Affordability clearly also is a major barrier for many Europeans, underlining the need for harmonised and coherent consumer incentives.’

Finally, Jonnaert comments that ‘A radical change in the market for alternatively-powered vehicles will of course not happen overnight. This is why focusing on a 2030 target is the best way forward. Instead of setting an interim target in 2025, it should rather be seen as a milestone year to review the progress made in reducing CO2 emissions towards 2030.’