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February 2019

EU, new parameters for CO2 emission reductions by 2030

Francesca Del Bello

European institutions recently agreed on new CO2 emission rules for cars and commercial vehicles: a decision that troubles the entire automotive world. 
An agreement between the European Parliament and representatives of member states was reached last December 17, setting new standards for reducing CO2 emissions: by 2030, in fact, carbon dioxide emissions on newly registered cars will have to be reduced by 37.5%, while for vans and other light commercial vehicles, the target was set at 31%. At the same time, a 15% intermediate level, in this case for both cars and LCVs, was also established, and must be achieved by 2025; both targets will be calculated on the basis of 2021 emission levels. MEPs are now called upon to ratify the protocol, although the possibility of reaching a final agreement before the European elections next May seems, at this stage, quite unlikely. 
The agreement comes at the end of lengthy negotiations, and represents a compromise between the initial demands of the European Commission, which called for a 30% reduction (supported by Germany), and the European Parliament, which insisted on the need for a 40% reduction. Positive reactions were received from the top management of the European Energy and Climate Commissions: Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for Climate and Energy, described the agreements as a clear demonstration of how Europe intends to “implement the Paris Agreement and COP24". Maroš Šefčovič, vice-president of the Union for Energy and Climate, is of a similar opinion and, recognizing the importance of such result in the framework of the Paris Agreements, underlines that the war on emissions represents a "decisive step forward in supporting the competitiveness of Europe’s industry" in terms of expanding investments in the Union's supply chains, especially in sectors such as batteries and other essential technologies.
Different reactions from the automotive sector. If Germany, supporting the Commission's position, made no mystery of its concern about the possible repercussions that such measures could have on the car market - Angela Merkel argued that any reduction of more than 30% would have the effect of making the car market "uncompetitive" -, ACEA’s reaction (European Automobile Manufacturer's Association) was even stronger. The group, which represents and protects the interests of the European automotive industry, wasted no time in expressing "serious concerns" about the targets set by the European institutions, defining the 37.5% target as "unreal" given the current market conditions: according to the association, such emission reduction would be possible only through a widespread distribution of electric and other alternative modes of transportation, something that appears currently impossible. What ACEA hopes for, in view of the impact that these measures could have on the labour market, is the implementation of "concrete plans" to manage this transition appropriately in terms of skills and employment levels.

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