New targets proposed to reduce vehicle emissions

European Commission proposals will cut average CO2 emissions from new cars and vans by 2020, writes Caelia Quinault

New targets to further reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new cars and light commercial vehicles (vans) by 2020 have been proposed by the European Commission.

The proposals will cut average emissions from new cars to 95 grams of CO2 per km (g CO2/km) in 2020 from 135.7g in 2011 and a mandatory target of 130g in 2015.

Cars and vans currently account for around 15% of EU CO2 emissions

Emissions from vans will be reduced to 147g CO2/km in 2020 from 181.4g in 2010 (the latest year for which figures are available) and a mandatory target of 175g in 2017.

The mandatory targets for 2020 are already envisaged in existing legislation but require implementation. Following thorough technical and economic analysis by the Commission, the Regulations proposed yesterday (July 11) establish the finer details.

Unveiling the proposals this week (June 11), Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action, said: ”With our proposals we are not only protecting the climate and saving consumers money. We are also boosting innovation and competitiveness in the European automotive industry. And we will create substantial numbers of jobs as a result. This is a clear win-win situation for everyone. This is one more important step towards a competitive, low-carbon economy. More CO2 reductions beyond 2020 need to be prepared and these will be considered in consultation with stakeholders.”


According to the Commission, the 2020 targets are achievable, economically sound and cost effective. It says the technology is readily available, its cost is substantially lower than previously thought and its implementation should boost employment and GDP and benefit consumers and industry.

The proposals are expected to save around 420 million tonnes of CO2 in the period to 2030 and 160 million tonnes of oil.

Consumers are also expected to save around €30 billion (£24 bn) per year in fuel costs and it is estimated that the targets could increase EU GDP by €12bn (£9bn) annually and spending on employment by some €9bn (£7 bn) a year.

Each new car is expected on average save its owner around €340 (£268) in fuel costs in the first year, and an estimated total of €2904-3836 (£2,291-£3,026) over the car’s lifetime (13 years), as compared with the 2015 target.

For vans the average fuel cost saving is estimated at around €400 (£316) in the first year and €3363-4564 (£2,653-3,601) over their 13-year lifetime.


The Commission’s impact assessment of the proposals shows the European automotive sector has a large capacity for innovation and enjoys a substantial comparative advantage over competitors.

The Commission claims the 2020 targets offer a clear legal environment for investment, and will further stimulate innovation by vehicle producers and component suppliers, further strengthening the EU industry’s competitive advantage. The introduction of similar CO2 or fuel efficiency standards in third countries is expected to further increase demand for CO2-reducing technologies and more efficient cars made in Europe.

The need for new technologies and improvements in fuel efficiency will have positive impacts on demand for components. Fuel efficiency is expected to have a beneficial effect on employment as fuel efficiency increases the value of cars manufactured and leads to proportionally higher labour demand since vehicle manufacturing is labour-intensive.

The proposals will be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council for discussion and adoption under the normal legislative procedure. The proposals would amend two existing Regulations establishing binding requirements for manufacturers to meet the 2015 mandatory target for cars and the 2017 target for vans. Implementing measures for the Regulations are already in place and CO2 emissions from new vehicles are monitored annually.

The proposals represent a further contribution towards meeting the EU’s goal of cutting overall greenhouse gas emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020 and moving towards decarbonising the transport sector, in line with the EU’s climate change policy and the Transport White Paper.

Cars and vans together account for around 15% of EU CO2 emissions, including emissions from fuel supply.


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top