European Parliament Approves Regulation To Tighten Car Carbon Dioxide Limit by 2021

By Stephen Gardner  

Feb. 25 --The European Parliament on Feb. 25 confirmed a deal with European Union member states on a regulation that will limit the carbon dioxide emissions from new passenger cars sold in the bloc to 95 grams per kilometer (152 grams per mile) on average by 2021.

Lawmakers in a European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg, France, voted 499-107, with nine abstentions, in favor of the regulation, which will succeed the current standard, which limits private car carbon dioxide emissions to 135 g/km on average, phased in between 2012 and 2015 (Regulation (EC) 443/2009).

The regulation has already been informally agreed to among EU member states, represented in the EU Council, and approved by the European Parliament's environment committee. It will enter into force when approved by EU member states at a forthcoming EU Council meeting.

The EU's top climate official, Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, said in a statement that the deal “gives the car industry planning certainty to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles.”

Hedegaard, who proposed the regulation in July 2012, said “the 95 gram target is achievable by employing technologies available today.” She said the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, will “now focus on the next step and come up with ideas for a post-2020 target in the coming months.”

Transitional Measures

Under the regulation, 95 percent of new passenger cars in the EU on average must comply with the limit in 2020, and all must comply in 2021.

As a transitional measure, automakers will be able in 2020 to double-count very fuel-efficient vehicles (those with emissions below 50 g/km) in the calculation of their overall average emissions. The weighting will be reduced in 2021 and 2022, and discontinued in 2023.

Should automakers fail to comply with the limit, they will have to pay an “excess emissions premium” of 95 euros ($130.50) for every g/km per vehicle above 95 g/km. However, most automakers have already significantly cut their average emissions, and manufacturers have the option to pool their emissions prior to calculation of averages, so that higher-emitting vehicles are not penalized.

The regulation also states that the European Commission should approve a new test procedure for vehicle emissions by 2017, because of concerns that current test procedures result in emissions ratings that are unrealistic in real-world driving conditions.

Automakers on Track

Thomas Ulmer, a German center-right lawmaker who was responsible for overseeing the draft regulation through the European Parliament, said that the emissions reduction to be achieved by 2021 “represents a saving of 50 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year,” and “can help keep Europe in the driver's seat when it comes to efficient and innovative cars.”

Greg Archer, clean vehicles manager for Transport & Environment, an environmental advocacy group, called the approved regulation “a good deal for the environment, EU economy and drivers--reducing fuel use and CO2 emissions by 27 percent over six years.”

“The regulation confirmed today calls for a 2025 target, and new [vehicle emissions] test to be quickly introduced. The Commission must ensure that fierce opposition from carmakers does not delay their introduction,” Archer added.

According to figures published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) in October 2013, average emissions of passenger cars sold in the EU in 2012, the latest year for which data is available, stood at 132.2 g/km.

Automakers including Audi, BMW, Fiat, Ford, Peugeot and Toyota in 2012 had already met their 2015 target, while manufacturers including Daimler, GM, Mazda and Volkswagen need to make further emission cuts, according to the EEA figures.


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To contact the editor responsible for this story: Greg Henderson at

The text approved by lawmakers Feb. 25 on passenger car CO2 emission limits for 2020 is available at