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Car CO2 Emissions Fall Sharply in Response to EU Targets

Originally published on Transport & Environment.
By Eoin Bannon

Official new data from the EU’s environmental watchdog (EEA) shows that the CO2 emissions of new cars decreased by 12% in 2020 to 107.8 grams of CO2 per km. Transport & Environment (T&E) said the sharp drop showed that ambitious EU car CO2 targets do spur carmakers to reduce their climate impact but that tighter standards will be needed from 2025 onwards so that all new cars sold from 2035 are zero-emissions.

Lucien Mathieu, road vehicles and emobility analysis manager at T&E, said:

“New car emissions were increasing as recently as two years ago, but the sharp drop last year shows that carmakers respond to CO2 standards. Some carmakers have already said when they will go fully electric, but stricter CO2 standards leading to zero-emissions are needed to ensure the whole industry phases out fossil-fuel engines by 2035”

The EU is expected to propose new car and van CO2 targets on July 14. T&E recommends that the EU increases the 2025 target and sets an additional binding target for 2027. All petrol and diesel cars engines should be phased out by 2035 at the latest, says the group.

Image courtesy of Groupe Renault

However, the average emissions of new vans fell just 1.5% to 157.7 g CO2/km last year while the market share of electric vans edged up to only 2.3% in 2020. T&E said that van CO2 standards are so weak, most vanmakers are able to meet them without selling a single zero-emissions vehicle. It said the upcoming review of van emission standards gives the EU a unique opportunity to strengthen the targets and finally drive the uptake of electric vans.

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