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UK opposes tough EU emissions targets

The UK government has announced that it intends to oppose an EU proposal for tough new emissions targets for 2025. The targets call for an ultra low CO2 emissions target of no more than 70g/km per car. To put this figure in context, cars emitting less than 100g/km are currently exempt from road tax in the UK.

The UK government has announced that it intends to oppose an EU proposal for tough new emissions targets for 2025. The targets call for an ultra low CO2 emissions target of no more than 70g/km per car. To put this figure in context, cars emitting less than 100g/km are currently exempt from road tax in the UK. The proposal for a revised 2025 target was made by British Lib Dem MEP, Fiona Hall. The European Commission is currently working with EU member states to agree upon a target for the period leading up to 2020. These targets include a limit of 130g/km for new cars sold from 2015 and 95g/km for models produced from 2020.

MEP Hall, who is a member of the EU industry research and energy committee, wants her proposed 2025 target to be added to these existing targets, giving car manufacturers time to make the necessary changes. The Department of Transport (DfT) in the UK disagrees. It has argued that trying to extend the current targets will simply result in a delay in their implementation, with a spokesperson insisting that agreement is needed now in order for those targets to be met. The DfT further suggested that only once the 2015 and 2020 targets have been agreed would it be reasonable to add a 2025 target.

A DfT spokesperson explained: It is important to strike the right balance by supporting ambitious targets, while ensuring we do not hinder industry growth or competitiveness and encourage continued investments in low carbon vehicle technologies in the EU. Beyond 2020, it is likely that some form of mandatory targets will continue to be an effective measure for reducing CO2. We would only consider specific targets following a commission review and assessment of the impacts to ensure that target levels were ambitious, but realistic and based on sound evidence."

The opposition by the DfT has led to protests by green activists in DfT minister Norman Baker's constituency, with Greenpeace insisting that the 2025 targets were possible without delaying the agreement of 2015 and 2020 targets. Fiona Hall was more conciliatory though, saying: "Norman Baker and I are both committed to further reducing CO2 emissions from cars. But whereas the DfT wants to wait to look at specific targets until after the Commission's review next year, I would like to send a political signal right now that the 2025 target must be ambitious." With the car industry across Europe already in crisis, it remains to be seen how they would cope with the investment necessary to make the engine changes.

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