29 July 1988
The European Commission endorsed an offer by the European auto industry to voluntarily cut carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution from cars by about 25% by improving fuel consumption. The deal, reached after the European Union threatened to impose legally-binding CO2 emission limits on vehicle manufacturers, commits members of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) to cutting the amount of CO2 in exhaust gases to an average 140 g/km by 2008. The Commission said the current average in the 15-nation EU was 186 g CO2/km in 1995.
The deal will oblige car makers to reduce the average fuel consumption of their fleet to 6 liters per 100 km for gasoline engines and 5.3 liters per 100 km for diesel vehicles.
ACEA said it believed it could bring CO2 emissions down to 165-170 g/km by 2003, when it would see if it could meet the tougher target sought by the EU of 120 g CO2/km by 2012.
European Environment Commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard said the agreement would “contribute significantly” to the bloc’s international commitment to curb climate change.
The EU pledged at world climate talks in Kyoto, Japan, last December to bring emissions of CO2 and five other greenhouse gases down to eight percent below 1990 levels by 2008-2012. European Industry Commissioner Martin Bangemann said the deal “leaves the industry the necessary flexibility to achieve their target in the most cost-effective way.”
The Commission said ACEA’s commitment was based on the assumption that high quality fuels—with a maximum sulfur content of 30 ppm—would be available and rival manufacturers would take equivalent CO2-cutting measures. Under new EU laws oil refineries will be obliged to produce fuels with a maximum 50 ppm of sulfur by 2005.
The Commission had also begun talks on a similar CO2-cutting deal with Japanese and Korean car manufacturers. The US auto industry posed no problem as Ford Motor Co and General Motors Corp were ACEA members and Chrysler Corp was expected to merge with Germany’s Daimler-Benz AG.
ACEA and the Commission have agreed jointly to monitor the industry’s compliance with its pledge. ACEA stipulated any judgement on compliance should take into account the impact of CO2-cutting measures on the economic health of the industry. For its part, the Commission said it reserved the right to push for mandatory CO2 limits if the industry failed to live up to its promises.
The deal with ACEA is part of a strategy aimed at bringing CO2 emissions from passenger cars down to 120g/km, ideally by 2005, at the latest by 2010.