Stricter but ‘Unrealistic’: EU Agrees on 37.5% CO2 Reduction Target by 2030

Written by | Thursday, December 20th, 2018

The European Union agreed on Monday (17 December) to a goal of decreasing carbon emissions from cars by 37.5 percent in ten years’ time. The goal finally settles differences between vehicle-producing countries and pro-environment lawmakers. The EU has been divided over the exact nature of CO2 emissions from vehicles as part of its efforts to reduce greenhouse gases overall by 40 percent by 2030. Some member states favor stricter regulations while others support more lenient ones.


Germany, with the EU’s biggest auto market worth around €423 billion (in 2017) had said that strict targets and the shift towards electric cars could have a negative impact on employment and the industry overall. MEPs finally found a common ground on Monday when they agreed to cut emissions from cars by 37.5% and vans by 31% by 2030 compared to 2021. There was also a deal on a temporary target of a 15% cut for both cars and vans by 2025. “This is an important signal in our fight against climate change,” commented Austrian Minister for Sustainability and Tourism, Elisabeth Koestinger.


Some environmentalist groups were disappointed that the goal was not even more ambitious. Brussels-based lobbying group Transport & Environment commented on the EU deal that “Europe is shifting up a gear in the race to produce zero emission cars. The new law means by 2030 around a third of new cars will be electric or hydrogen-powered,” with the nonprofit’s clean vehicles director Greg Archer adding that “that’s progress, but it’s not fast enough to hit our climate goals.”


The original proposal counted with 30% decline compared to 2021, hence this week’s compromise is a tougher position. The stricter target was achieved with support of the Netherlands and France. The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) and other European automakers warned that EU plans to slash carbon dioxide emissions from new cars and vans by 2030 were “totally unrealistic” as the new legislation would do little to provide incentives to switch to electric cars – without a network to recharge electric cars and more effort to retrain workers – while also setting high demands on the industry.

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