In a stunning turn of events last Thursday, MEPs in the European Parliament today voted to make carmakers play a much greater role in tackling climate change and rejected car industry attempts to weaken proposed legislation on the fuel efficiency of new cars.
With an overwhelming majority, the Parliament's Environment Committee endorsed the European Commission's proposal to cut average emissions from new cars to no more than 130g grammes of carbon dioxide per kilometre (gCO2/km) by 2012. Proposals to postpone the deadline to 2015 and to lower proposed penalties to be paid by car manufacturers were rejected. The Committee also said that average emissions in 2020 should be no more than 95g C02/km, subject to a review in 2014.
This is great news. The Committee has listened to the views of concerned citizens across Europe who overwhelmingly want tough action to make new cars more fuel-efficient and cut emissions. The low penalties and long deadlines the car industry wanted have been effectively trashed. Instead a new and overdue target of 95g Co2/km by 2020 has been agreed.
According to the Guardian, the CO2 emissions of cars make up about 14% of such emissions in Europe. The commission proposals are a key part of the overall climate-change package to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020 - proposals that need to be turned into law by the end of the year if the EU is to maintain its credibility as a world leader in the fight against global warming. The overall package has to be agreed by the commission, the parliament and the 27 EU governments, meaning there is now likely to be a showdown between Berlin and the parliament before Christmas.
The car industry must now focus its efforts on driving down emissions rather than self-interested lobbying.