Documents considered by the Committee on 12 January 2011 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

14 Reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles



COM(10) 656

Commission Report on implementation of the Community's integrated approach to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from light-duty vehicles

Legal base
Document originated10 November 2010
Deposited in Parliament18 November 2010
Basis of considerationEM of 9 December 2010
Previous Committee ReportNone, but see footnotes
To be discussed in CouncilNo date set
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared


14.1 Because of the large (and increasing) contribution which carbon dioxide from vehicles makes to overall emissions of greenhouse gases, the EU has since 1995 had in place a strategy to address this issue. Prior to 1997, this comprised three pillars — voluntary agreements with European, Japanese and Korean manufacturers aimed at reducing the level of such emissions from new cars to 140g/km; the provision of information to consumers; and fiscal measures to promote the fuel-efficient use of cars.

14.2 However, as it had become clear that the reduction target was unlikely to be met, the Commission put forward in February 2007 a Communication[64] reviewing the strategy in this area. This suggested that additional measures, including a legislative requirement for vehicles to meet a target of 120g/km by 2012, were needed to complement the measures which it has already proposed on fuel quality, with part of this reduction (to 130g/km) being delivered by improvements in vehicle technology, and the remaining 10g/km by a range of other measures, notably minimum efficiency standards for air-conditioning systems; the mandatory fitting of tyre pressure monitoring systems; maximum tyre rolling resistance limits for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles; the fitting of gear shift indicators; mandatory targets for fuel efficiency in vans; and increased use of biofuels.

14.3 The Commission also suggested other potential measures which would not form part of the 120g/km legislative target, and which would be either subject to other EU legislation, non-legislative measures, or pursued by individual Member States. These included:

—  Taxation

The Commission urged Member States to adopt as soon as possible its earlier proposal[65] for a Directive which would require them to base registration taxes, such as Vehicle Excise Duty, increasingly on carbon dioxide emission levels, and to adapt their taxation policies so as to promote the purchase of fuel efficient cars. In the meantime, it suggested that there should be a "Light-duty Environmentally Enhanced Vehicle" for those which meet the emission standards laid down.

—  Consumer labelling and information

The Commission said that it would put forward in 2007 a proposal to harmonise design of the existing mandatory fuel efficiency label across the EU, and to extend its application to vans, and it also suggested that manufacturers should agree to a voluntary code of good-practice on marketing and advertising.

—  Driver behaviour

The Commission suggested that Member States should be encouraged to promote fuel efficient driving ("eco driving"), and that a requirement relating to this should be included in future revisions of the Driving Licence Directive (91/439/EEC).

—  Research towards a lower long term emissions target

Commission said that it would support research towards a 40% reduction in passenger car emissions of carbon dioxide.

The current document

14.4 In this document, the Commission has reported on the various developments which have taken place since 2007.


The voluntary agreements and 130g/km legislative target

14.5 The Commission confirms that each of the car industry associations missed its voluntary agreement target to a greater or lesser degree, but that a legislative target of 130g/km is now contained in Regulation 443/2009/EC. It notes that, after a three year phase-in period, this will come fully into force from 2015, with derogations for manufacturers under certain sales volume thresholds, extra credits for very low-emitting vehicles and emissions-reduction technologies, adding that (even taking into account the phase-in) this means that the actual average will be slightly above 130g/km. The Regulation also specifies an average target of 95g/km in 2020 (subject to review by 2013), and the Commission says that, according to the trajectory of average emissions since 2000, the 130g/km target is on course to be met.


14.6 The Commission says that it held a consultation on this in 2008, and will present a proposal in 2011.

Tyre pressure monitoring systems

14.7 The Commission notes that the General Safety Regulation (661/2009/EC), which came into effect in 2009, requires cars to be fitted with these systems to alert drivers when tyre pressure drops by 20% below normal. The requirement will apply to all new car models by November 2012 and to all new cars by November 2014, and the Commission is currently discussing the possibility of a more stringent requirement, to follow each of these dates by three years.

Lower rolling-resistance tyres

14.8 The Commission says that the General Safety Regulation also contains a rolling resistance requirement which all new car models must meet by November 2013 and all new cars by November 2014, with a second, more stringent phase coming into effect in November 2017 and November 2018 respectively. In addition, sellers of tyres for cars, buses and goods vehicles are required from November 2012 to fix a label indicating relative energy efficiency of the tyre, and the Commission says that, together, these measures are expected to save 1.5-4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year across all vehicle types.

Gear-shift indicators

14.9 The Commission says that the General Safety Regulation requires all new passenger car models to be equipped with these devices by 2012 and all new cars by 2014, and that, if this led to a 100% response rate from drivers, carbon dioxide emissions from car use would be reduced by an estimated 6%.


14.10 The Commission says that biofuel use has been addressed in more general legislation, notably the Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC), which requires Member States to ensure that 10% of the total energy used in transport is sourced from renewable sources by 2020, and the Fuel Quality Directive (2009/30/EC), which requires suppliers of energy for use in road transport, non-road mobile machinery, agricultural and forestry tractors, and recreational craft to reduce the lifecycle greenhouse gas intensity of their fuel by 6% by 2020. It points out that the share of biofuels in liquid fuels used for transport on the basis of energy use rose from 2.7% in 2007 to 3.5% in 2008, and that, leaving aside emissions arising from indirect land-use changes, this has been calculated as an equivalent carbon dioxide emissions reduction of 14 million tonnes.

G/km targets for light commercial vehicles

14.11 The Commission notes that it published in October 2009 a draft regulation[66] setting a target of 175g/km for vans as from 2014, but that, as with the equivalent measures for cars, this would be phased in, with full compliance required only from 2016.


Consumer information and behaviour

14.12 The Commission says that progress on the various strands of consumer information since 2007 has been incremental, with Member States revising their labels towards a colour-coded scheme and/or including information on emissions-related running costs (and, in some cases, introducing voluntary codes of guidance on car advertising). It also points out that in 2009 a Commission-backed study examined potential information technology-based eco-driving systems, which demonstrated a theoretical maximum emissions saving of 15% (subject to the caveat that the saving actually achieved would depend very heavily on driver behaviour). The report also notes that the marginal returns from focusing on eco-driving are likely to diminish in future, as automatic vehicle technologies increasingly replace some of the behaviour currently dependent on the driver.


14.13 The Commission notes that Member States have since 2007 increasingly introduced carbon dioxide-related elements into their passenger car taxation systems, but that the proposal it put forward in 2005 to require this has not progressed. Similarly, a proposal in 2007 that existing EU fuel taxation legislation should be amended to "reduce distortions" between Member States in fuel duties has not been adopted.


Mid-term action

14.14 The Commission suggests that all future legislative proposals aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles should require such reductions to be measurable, monitorable and accountable, and it says that specific actions arising from the Clean and Energy Efficient Vehicles strategy in the period 2010-2020 will include a review of the modalities of reaching the 95g/km target for 2020 contained in the cars legislation, and possibly those for the long-term target proposed in the draft regulation for light commercial vehicles. In addition, the Commission says that it is committed to proposing a new test-cycle to reflect more accurately actual driving conditions, as well as the specific carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption related to it. It adds that it is also planning to look into the possibility of measurement and certification of carbon dioxide emissions from heavy duty vehicles, and that, if appropriate methods could be agreed, it will consider implementing efficiency standards for such vehicles.

Long-term vision

14.15 The Commission says that its preliminary work on decarbonisation issues over a longer time horizon indicates that, in order to limit the global temperature increase by 2050 to 2°C, the range of domestic carbon dioxide reductions needed from the EU economy will have to amount to roughly 70% compared with 1990 levels. It points out that, although the transport sector will have to make a significant contribution to the effort needed to achieve this, its emissions have in fact increased by 26% since 1990, despite technological advances: and it suggests that, although the strategy discussed in this report focuses primarily on vehicles being placed on the market, it is also important to consider the way in which they are subsequently used. It adds that, in order to improve planning certainty whilst ensuring a continuing reduction in emissions from light-duty vehicles, it envisages proposing a target for passenger car emissions in 2025, and to consider further reductions for light commercial vehicles.

The Government's view

14.16 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 9 December 2010, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport (Mr Norman Baker) points out that, as regards the new carbon dioxide targets for cars, Regulation 443/2009/EEC sets out substantive provisions for the 2012 targets, but that many of the finer details have been left to the comitology process, and that the issues remaining to be resolved include a system for crediting the contribution of innovative technologies and the structure of the target for 2020. As regards the complementary measures, he notes that none of these has yet had an impact on in-use vehicle carbon dioxide emissions, with many not being fully in effect until mid-decade at the earliest: and he points out that, whilst these measures were expressly designed to achieve a total reduction of 10g/km carbon dioxide equivalent, the Commission has not stated how much each measure is expected to contribute, or whether the 10g/km total is still considered likely to be met from these measures. In particular, he says it is unclear whether the inclusion of biofuels in this package risks double-counting emissions savings already attributed under the relevant renewable fuels legislation: in the meantime, he records that the share of biofuels in UK road transport has risen (on a volume basis) from 2.7% in 2007-2008 to 3.8% in 2008-2009.

14.17 As regards the other pillars of the strategy, the Minister says that the Driving Standards Agency has integrated eco-driving into the driving test to ensure that new drivers know from the outset how to drive in a safe and efficient way, and that the Government has also been working with the Energy Saving Trust (EST) to provide short duration eco-driving training to existing drivers, and has encouraged eco-driving (and the purchase of more fuel-effective cars) through the 'Act on CO2' campaign which ran from 2007 to 2010.

14.18 As regards future action, the Minister says that the UK supports the principle of considering the targets for light vehicles and alternative energy-use metrics beyond 2020, and the extension of carbon dioxide regulation in some form to heavy-duty vehicles, adding that, for the last of these, ensuring an approach tailored to the particularities of this vehicle sector will be crucial.


14.19 Much of the ground covered by this report, including the legislative and other measures for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from both passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, is familiar, and does not require any further consideration. However, given the extent to which this sector contributes to overall greenhouse gas emissions within the EU, we think it right, in clearing the document, to draw it to the attention of the House.

64   (28366) 6204/07: see HC 41-xvi (2006-07), chapter 10 (28 March 2007). Back

65   (26714) 11067/05: see HC 34-vi (2005-06), para 11 (19 October 2005) and HC 34-xi (2005-06), para 8 (23 November 2005). Back

66   (31093) 15317/09: see HC 5-iv (2009-10), chapter 5 (15 December 2009) and HC 5-xvi (2009-10), chapter 9 (30 March 2010). Back

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