New compromise on car emissions limits

The European Union agreed a compromise in order to enforce stricter rules on carbon dioxide emissions for EU cars. The new outline agreement delays until 2021 the 100% implementation of a limit of 95 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre (CO2/km) for all new cars, the previous deadline having been 2020.

It also changes the rules on flexibility, giving more leeway to German luxury car manufactures such as Daimler and BMW, whose emissions are higher than those of smaller, lighter carmakers such as Fiat.

Germany has won some of the concessions it sought. Apart from the phase-in, under which 95 percent of new car sales will have to comply in 2020 and 100 percent in 2021, the agreement also changes the rules for ‘supercredits’.

These allow manufacturers that make very low emission vehicles, such as electric vehicles, to claim extra credits for them, so they can continue to produce more heavily polluting vehicles as well.

An agreement reached in June had set a limit for use of supercredits at 2.5 grams per year, but the new deal sets a cap of 7.5 grams of carbon dioxide for the years 2020-2022, so a manufacturer could opt to use all the flexibility in the first year.

Environmental campaigners, who have strongly criticized the German stance, gave a very cautious welcome to the deal. “Carmakers will only meet this target up to three years later, thanks to a combination of a phase-in of the standards and the use of accounting tricks known as ‘supercredits’”, said Greenpeace.