EU seals bad deal to limit climate impact of cars

Press release - November 26, 2013
Brussels – Negotiators from the European Parliament, the Lithuanian EU presidency and the European Commission agreed today to further dilute the EU’s carbon emission standards for cars, after Germany managed to derail a previous compromise agreement struck in June, said Greenpeace.

The new rules were meant to confirm a reduction of average car emissions to no more than 95g CO2/km by 2020, which was set in legislation in 2008. But as a result of the talks today, carmakers will only meet this target up to three years later, thanks to a combination of a phase-in of the standards and the use of accounting tricks known as ‘supercredits’.

Under the phase-in, the most polluting 5 per cent of each manufacturer’s cars will not be required to comply with emission standards until 2021. On top of that, supercredits will allow carmakers to offset their most polluting cars, such as SUVs, with a much smaller number of low-emission vehicles, such as electric cars. These supercredits, which can be used until 2022, mean carmakers can overshoot the standard without paying any penalties.

Greenpeace EU transport policy director Franziska Achterberg said: “After a near-breakdown of global climate talks in Warsaw, the EU is now backtracking on earlier agreements to limit the climate damage caused by its cars. The urgency of fighting climate change is increasing, as is Europe’s oil import bill. But the European Union has today put a few companies’ short-term business interests before the interests of its citizens and the wider economy.”

The next step for the EU is to set further carbon emission standards for cars for 2025,” added Achterberg. The United States has already set its own rules until 2025 [1].

The new compromise needs to be rubberstamped by representatives of EU governments (who will be meeting on 29 November) and the European Parliament. 

Greenpeace warns that this further weakening of the legislation will have an impact on emission reductions and business planning for car manufacturers and their suppliers [2]. Continued improvements in car efficiency would also reduce the EU’s burgeoning oil import bill and generate hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the EU, according to a study by Cambridge Econometrics and others [3].



[1] International Council for Clean Transportation, The EU CO2 standards thriller, continued

[2] European Association of Automotive Suppliers, CLEPA calls on both Member States and the European Parliament to move towards a compromise so as to give industry much-needed planning certainty

[3] Cambridge Econometrics, Fuelling Europe’s Future: How auto innovation leads to EU jobs



Franziska Achterberg - Greenpeace EU transport policy director: +32 (0)498 362 403,
Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 274 1911,

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Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.