Claims versus reality: How the European car lobby proved itself wrong

Publication - December 2, 2011
When policy makers discussed the EU’s first ever mandatory CO2 emission standard for cars in 2006–2008, individual car companies and their lobby group, ACEA (the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association), lobbied hard to stop the recommended standards becoming law.

The car industry claimed that targets to reduce carbon dioxide
emissions from cars to no more than 120 grammes of carbon dioxide
per kilometre (g CO2/km) would be technologically impossible to
meet by 2012. It also argued that the necessary changes would be
too expensive and that there would be no consumer demand for
efficient vehicles. It even went so far as to say that introducing such
standards would lead to the collapse of the entire industry. All the
while, European car companies and their lobby group, ACEA, claimed
to be concerned about the environment.

As a direct result of the car industry’s lobbying, European policy
makers not only weakened its proposed target to 130g CO2/km,
but also delayed it by three years from 2012 to 2015.
This document looks at the claims the industry made when the
standards were first put in place and compares them with the
reality of developments since then. It is clear that many of the
industry’s statements were hugely exaggerated and have already
been proved wrong.

In 2012 and for the next two years, EU policy makers will be
deciding how to achieve a longer term target of 95g CO2/km
by 2020 and setting a new target for 2025. In the run-up to this
adoption of new standards, it is crucial that lessons are learned
and that unsubstantiated and false claims from the car industry
are not allowed to once again water down the emission targets
needed to tackle climate change.