CO2 emissions measured at the tailpipe is a road to nowhere – an important ITRE vote

28 Apr 2022
A strict implementation of CO2 emission standards proposed in FIT FOR 55 package will lead to closing the automotive sector on the production of vehicles equipped with engines other than electric. The vote that took place in ITRE recently gives hope that these standards will be less restrictive. 

A way to climate neutrality doesn’t mean only electrically propelled vehicles. 

European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) voted on amendments to the proposed CO2 standards for new passenger cars and light-duty commercial vehicles, published last July by the Commission as part of the Fit for 55 package.

A majority of ITRE members voted in favour of adjusting the 100% CO2 emissions reduction target proposed by the Commission to a 90% target, compared to 2021 levels. The targets for 2025 and 2030 remain unchanged. A proposal to recognise the contribution of renewable fuels for compliance with the targets was missed by two votes for a majority.

“The vote in the ITRE Committee sends an important signal of maintaining technology openness in the CO2 regulation, as
a 100% target measured solely at the tailpipe would be a de facto ban on the internal combustion engine. Adjusting the target to 90% allows for the further use of all technologies needed to better manage the transition to climate neutrality, including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles,” says Sigrid de Vries, Secretary General of CLEPA, the association representing automotive suppliers in the EU.

Further, CLEPA supports the ITRE Committee’s request to the European Commission to develop a methodology for the assessment and the consistent data reporting of the full life-cycle CO2 emissions of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles by 2023. Ms de Vries goes on to say,

“We are glad to see ITRE members underscore the strong need to put forward a methodology to accurately measure the full carbon footprint of a vehicle along its life-cycle. This is essential to effectively reduce emissions, and not merely displace them along the value chain. This holistic approach is indispensable to reaching climate neutrality, and we hope to see the Commission act swiftly.”

Making the step towards recognising emissions reductions in the use-phase via renewable fuels is, however, overdue. With the crediting system, a fully developed, concrete proposal is on the table. It bridges the gap between the high level of ambition, which we need, and the monumental effort which is required to get there.

Furthermore, the committee maintains eco-innovations and rejects calls for an earlier phase-out of incentives for zero and low-emission vehicles (ZLEVs).

“It is important to maintain incentives for the continued uptake of efficient technologies until a holistic methodology for life-cycle emissions is in place. ZLEVs will continue to require support, therefore maintaining incentives is a positive decision,” says Ms de Vries.

The vote in the ITRE Committee is not binding but gives a positive indication as to possible majorities in other committees and the Plenary. The leading ENVI Committee is scheduled to vote on its position on 11 May, the vote in the Plenary is planned to take place in June.


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