2022 – Civil society calls on EU politicians to support more ambitious CO2 emissions targets for cars and vans

Electric cars are the key to reducing our oil consumption dramatically and rapidly, say 51 NGOs from 12 countries ahead of a crucial vote to raise emissions standards..

Originally published in the Journal of Transportation and the Environment.

A vote on European Union clean car rules next week could help pave the way towards energy independence in Europe and bring significant benefits to the environment, consumers and public health, 51 NGOs said in a public appeal to members of parliament today. The groups say setting higher carbon targets for automakers in this decade would speed up Europe’s transition to electric vehicles, which – along with fewer private car trips and a more efficient shared mobility system – are key to decarbonizing road transport.

“Electric cars do not use oil and are therefore an important structural measure to get Europe out of its oil habit,” said MEPs’ political groups. They add: “As EU politicians, you have the opportunity to decide on the revision of the EU’s CO2 standards for cars and vans, and how quickly Europe can transition from an internal combustion engine to sensible zero-carbon mobility with all the added benefits of the environment, drivers and public health.”

To have a chance to combat climate change and eliminate air pollution while ending Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels, political groups are urging MEPs to:

1. Support the scheduling of the EU-wide phase-out of sales of passenger cars and vans with internal combustion engines (including plug-in hybrids) as soon as possible until 2030 but no later than 2035;

2. Provide significantly higher CO2 reduction targets for car manufacturers for both 2025 and 2030, with an additional interim target of at least 45% in 2027;

3. Reject seemingly β€œgreen” solutions – such as e-fuels – driven by the oil and gas industry, that would allow automakers to buy fuel credits to meet their CO2 targets;

4. Refrain from giving auto manufacturers a so-called ZLEV bonus, which significantly reduces their CO2 targets, if they sell zero-emission, low-emission cars – cars they have to produce anyway;

5. End the CO2 passage of the heavier car by removing the mass balance factor, which is one of the main reasons for the rapid sales of high-pollution SUVs.

The European Parliament will vote on the CO2 Car Act on June 7. MEP members are required to raise car manufacturers’ standards in the 2020s and 2030s, which NGOs see as necessary to ensure automakers deliver on their promises of electric cars and enable EU countries to meet their national climate targets. By accelerating mass production of electric cars, it will also mean that electric cars will be cheaper than gasoline equivalents on average by the middle of this decade.

A proposal to end sales of internal combustion engine cars and trucks in 2035 would allow all cars and vans on the road to have zero emissions by 2050, which groups say is the minimum for Europe to get by then to become carbon neutral. But any loopholes that would allow e-fuel cars to remain on sale would lead to an unenforceable law that would drive up costs for consumers and car companies while diverting limited amounts of available synthetic fuels away from hard-to-decarbonize patterns. Transportation such as planes and ships. Cars that also run on synthetic fuels emit toxic nitrogen oxides (NOx) like engines that run on fossil fuels.

Passenger cars and vans are the source of 15% of all carbon dioxide emissions in Europe and the single largest cause of toxic nitrogen dioxide pollution, which shortens the lives of more than 40,000 Europeans each year.

Brief: EU politicians are calling on civil society to support more ambitious CO2 targets for cars and vans

Update: 53 NGOs have now joined the public call.


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