Documents considered by the Committee on 30 March 2010 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

9   Carbon dioxide emissions from new light commercial vehicles



+ ADDs 1-2

COM(09) 593

Draft Regulation setting emissions standards for new light commercial vehicles as part of the Community's integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles

Legal baseArticle 175EC; co-decision; QMV
Basis of considerationMinister's letter of 24 March 2010
Previous Committee ReportHC 5-iv (2009-10), chapter 5 (15 December 2009)
To be discussed in CouncilSee para 9.7 below
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared


9.1  Because of the large (and increasing) contribution which carbon dioxide from vehicles makes to overall emissions of greenhouse gases, the Community has taken a number of measures to address this issue. These include voluntary agreements with European, Japanese and Korean manufacturers aimed at reducing the level of such emissions from new cars, in addition to which the European Council has endorsed a target of 120g/km by 2012, whilst the Commission's Energy Efficiency Plan[17] said that it would if necessary propose in 2007 legislation to ensure that target is achieved.

9.2  The Commission duly put forward in December 2007 a draft proposal[18] — since adopted as Regulation (EC) No 443/2009 — specifying that the average specific emissions of new passenger cars should not exceed 130g/km[19] as from 2012, and this was followed in October 2009 by the current document which proposed a corresponding restriction in relation to light commercial vehicles. The proposal would set a mandatory target of 175g/km for vehicles of category N1[20] from 2014 (with 75% of a manufacturer's registrations being taken into account in 2014, 80% in 2015, and full compliance required from 2016), and there would also be an overall longer-term target of 135g/km for 2020, subject to a review before 1 January 2013 to confirm its feasibility. Consideration would also be given before then to the feasibility of extending the measure to N2 and M2 vehicles,[21] which had been excluded from the proposal as sufficient carbon dioxide data was not available.

9.3  More specifically, the proposal would;

  • set individual targets for manufacturers according to the so-called "utility" of their vehicles (which in practice is proportional to their mass);
  • enable manufacturers to apply these targets to the average of the emissions for all new cars they register in the Community in each calendar year, and to credit up to 7g/km for new off-cycle emission-saving technologies (such as low-energy headlights) towards the targets;
  • allow super-low emitting vans to be counted as multiples[22] of their actual sales, so lowering the manufacturer's recorded emissions and encouraging the development of these vehicles;
  • allow different manufacturers to form, for a period up to five years, a pool, which would be treated as if it was one manufacturer for the purpose of determining compliance with the targets;
  • require a manufacturer which fails to meet its target to pay an excess emissions premium, with the proceeds being considered as revenue for the Community budget; and
  • provide for estimations of emissions from multi-stage vehicles involving different manufacturers to be reached from those of whole vehicles made by the base manufacturer.

Certain categories of "special purpose" vehicles, such as emergency vehicles, or those with wheelchair accessibility, would be exempted from the proposals, and smaller, independent manufacturers registering fewer than 22,000 new light commercial vehicles a year would be able to apply to the Commission for a lower target, provided this was consistent with its technical potential to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions.

9.4  As we noted in our Report of 15 December 2009, the Government supports the Commission's intention to legislate, and considers that the proposal is justified on subsidiarity grounds in relation to both environmental protection and the internal market, adding that it explicitly identifies areas of national competence (such as taxation) as complementary actions which individual Member States could take to reduce emissions. Our Report also recorded the Government's comments on specific aspects of the proposal, including the emission target levels and dates; the derogation for small-volume manufacturers; "pooling"; the definition of utility; the treatment of multi-stage vehicles; and penalties.

9.5  We commented that, although the proposal is based to a substantial extent on an earlier proposal relating to cars (and now enacted in Regulation (EC) No 443/2009), it represented a further stage in the Community's attempts to limit carbon dioxide emissions from light duty vehicles, and we therefore thought it right to draw it to the attention of the House. That said, we noted that the Government would be producing an Impact Assessment in the context of its public consultation, and we said that we would consider the document further when that Assessment was available, holding it under scrutiny in the meantime.

Minister's letter of 24 March 2010

9.6  We have now received from the Minister of State at the Department for Transport (Sadiq Khan) a letter of 24 March 2010, enclosing an Impact Assessment which has been prepared as part of the Government's consultation, which runs until 10 June 2010. This suggests that the annual cost of the proposal as it stands (arising from the introduction of fuel-saving technology, and the additional noise, other atmospheric pollution and additional infrastructure needs which would arise if reduced fuel costs should lead to an increase in the mileage driven) could be between £92 million and £183 million, whilst the annual benefits (arising from reduced emissions of carbon dioxide and from a reduction in driving costs resulting from greater fuel efficiency) could be between £195 million and £221 million. The Assessment also analyses the impact if an attempt were made to negotiate certain changes — for example, deferring the full application of the 175g/km target from 2016 to 2017 and 2018, reducing and/or deferring the long-term target of 135g/km, using a different parameter to define vehicle utility, and seeking a different penalty regime) — the broad effect of these being to reduce both the costs and benefits as compared with the Commission's proposal (though in each case there would continue to be a net benefit).

9.7  The Minister also says that a number of Working Party meetings have been held on the proposal, but that there has been little progress towards a commonly-agreed text. There was also an exchange of views at the Environment Council on 15 March, when many delegations broadly supported the proposed long-term target of 135g CO2/km to be met in 2020, although the UK strongly supports the need to subject this target to a review and thorough Impact Assessment by 2013. The Minister says that the Spanish Presidency sees this dossier as a priority, and that it is possible it may seek to achieve a general approach at the Environment Council on 21 June, although the proposal's complexities mean that this may not be possible. He adds that discussion has also begun recently in the European Parliament, with an initial exchange of views in the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee, and a Plenary first reading currently scheduled for October/November.


9.8  As we noted in our Report of 15 December 2009, this proposal relating to light commercial vehicles is similar in form and intention to the measure applying to cars (and now adopted as Regulation (EC) No 443/2009). The Government has also made it clear that appropriate action regarding the transport sector is a central element of the strategy which it — and the EU — is pursuing to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. It now seems clear from the Impact Assessment which the Minister has provided that, notwithstanding the uncertainties inherent in figures of this kind, the proposal (and any likely variation of it) is expected to produce a net benefit. In view of this, we see no over-riding reason to keep the document under scrutiny, and we are therefore clearing it.

17   (27944) 14349/06: see HC 41-ii (2006-07), chapter 8 (29 November 2006). Back

18   Category M1, as defined in Annex II of Directive 2007/46/EC, with a mass not exceeding 2,610kg. Back

19   The remaining 10g/km would be achieved by a range of other measures. Back

20   As defined in Annex II of Directive/2007/46/EC, with a reference mass not exceeding 2,610 kg. Back

21   N2 vehicles are small lorries designed for the carriage of goods, and having a gross mass between 3500kg and 5000kg, whilst M2 vehicles are minibuses with more than eight seats and with a gross mass less than 5000kg. Back

22   A multiple of 2.5 would be used in 2014, and 1.5 in 2015. Back

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