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Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 443/2009 to define the modalities for reaching the 2020 target to reduce CO 2 emissions from new passenger cars’ COM(2012) 393 final — 2012/0190 (COD) and the ‘Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 510/2011 to define the modalities for reaching the 2020 target to reduce CO 2 emissions from new light commercial vehicles’ COM(2012) 394 final — 2012/0191 (COD)

OJ C 44, 15.2.2013, p. 109–114 (BG, ES, CS, DA, DE, ET, EL, EN, FR, IT, LV, LT, HU, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SK, SL, FI, SV)

15.2.2013   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 44/109


Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 443/2009 to define the modalities for reaching the 2020 target to reduce CO2 emissions from new passenger cars’

COM(2012) 393 final — 2012/0190 (COD)

and the

‘Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 510/2011 to define the modalities for reaching the 2020 target to reduce CO2 emissions from new light commercial vehicles’

COM(2012) 394 final — 2012/0191 (COD)

2013/C 44/19

Rapporteur: Mr IOZIA

On 11 September 2012, both the European Parliament and the Council decided to consult the European Economic and Social Committee, under Articles 192(1) and 304 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), on the

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 443/2009 to define the modalities for reaching the 2020 target to reduce CO2 emissions from new passenger cars

COM(2012) 393 final — 2012/0190 (COD)

and the

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 510/2011 to define the modalities for reaching the 2020 target to reduce CO2 emissions from new light commercial vehicles

COM(2012) 394 final — 2012/0191 (COD).

The Section for the Single Market, Production and Consumption, which was responsible for preparing the Committee's work on the subject, adopted its opinion on 4 December 2012.

At its 485th plenary session, held on 12 and 13 December 2012 (meeting of 12 December), the European Economic and Social Committee adopted the following opinion by 116 votes to 1 with 4 abstentions.

1.   Conclusions and recommendations

1.1

In its opinions, the European Economic and Social Committee has always supported all Commission initiatives related to cutting CO2 emissions, in pursuit of the goal of a carbon-free Europe by 2050, whereby the transport sector is to reduce its emissions by 60 %.

1.2

The Committee points out that, in February 2011, the European Council confirmed the EU target of an 80-95 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 compared to 1990 levels (1). According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the developed countries must achieve the reduction targets collectively, taking account of the efforts that need to be made by developing countries. This should enable emissions to be cut by 50 % globally by 2050 by working towards a post-Kyoto reduction target within a global legal framework to be adopted by 2015 and to be implemented from 2020.

1.3

The Committee supports the setting of increasingly stringent targets to combat climate change, primarily for the road transport sector, which contributes 24 % of the EU's total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the main greenhouse gas (GHG). Between 1990 and 2010, these emissions rose by almost 23 %, a trend that is not sustainable in the light of the climate policy pursued by the EU.

1.4

The Committee endorses the proposed amendments, while pointing out that it is necessary to act in a harmonised, efficient way to ensure a secure and competitive use of resources, in such a way as to remove all obstacles to the internal market for transport, promote clean technologies and modernise transport networks. The Committee calls for the quick adoption of the regulations taking into account its suggestions.

1.5

The Committee attaches particular importance to setting long-term targets going beyond 2020, so that the internal market maintains its competitiveness. The proposal to set new post-2020 targets by 2014 is supported by the Committee, provided a rigorous and thorough impact assessment is carried out. The Committee recommends reviewing the targets by 2017, in the light of developments in technology, projected market trends and the need to combat GHG emissions. The companies concerned are rightly calling for a stable and timely regulatory framework, which needs to be combined with a real prospect of achieving very ambitious targets.

1.6

In line with previous opinions, the Committee recommends devising a model for calculating CO2 that factors in all emissions deriving from car manufacturing. The carbon footprint should be taken into account with regard to the entire lifecycle of vehicles.

1.7

The Committee welcomes the Commission's proposal to assess by 2014 the utility parameter to be adopted. Indeed, for some time it has advocated opting for footprint over mass, so as to support the development of lighter, lower-consumption vehicles with a lower environmental impact.

1.8

The Committee calls on the Commission to give further consideration to the proposed linear function (i.e. the % slope), bearing in mind that opting for a 60 % slope entails a 4,6 g surplus of CO2 for passenger cars. The nearer the percentage is to 100, the more this favours heavy vehicles.

1.9

For light commercial vehicles, the Commission has proposed setting the slope at 100 %, which lightens the burden to be borne by heavier-LCV manufacturers.

1.10

The Committee supports the policy put in place for the premium post-2020 – harmonisation at EUR 95 per gram of CO2 for cars and LCV – and believes that these funds should be earmarked for activities to bolster the automotive industry.

1.11

The Committee deems it essential to maintain Europe's global leadership in the area of sustainable mobility; delayed action and timid introduction of new technologies could condemn the EU transport industry to irreversible decline within the rapidly developing global market.

1.12

The Committee recommends adopting a labelling system for the technical characteristics of the emissions of each individual vehicle model; this labelling should be comparable, clear and fully inclusive of all harmful emissions. The current system, which leaves labelling options to Member States' discretion, should be changed. A single Europe-wide labelling system is needed, possibly to be agreed with the other international partners. Currently, the same car can be labelled differently in terms of emissions depending on whether the Member State concerned adopts the ‘relative label’ system, for example, rather than opting for the ‘absolute label’ system, which any sensible person would adopt, based on the absolute value of the emissions produced, rather than on a comparison with competitors in its segment.

1.13

For LCV, the Committee recommends for the future targets bringing phasing-in into line with the lead time for the sector (7-10 years as opposed to 5-7 for cars). The production characteristics of LCV are not conducive to such a rapid redesign, particularly with the market in acute crisis in certain countries.

2.   The Commission's proposals

2.1

On 11 July 2012, the European Commission adopted two proposals amending Regulations (EC) No 443/2011 and (EU) No 510/2011 to define the modalities for reaching the 2020 target to reduce CO2 emissions from passenger cars and light commercial vehicles.

2.2

The Commission intends to meet the following targets by 2020:

147 g of CO2/km on average for new light commercial vehicles; and

95 g of CO2/km for new passenger cars.

2.3

To meet the target for new passenger cars by 2020, the Commission sets out the following modalities:

the proposal retains as the utility parameter the vehicle's mass in running order;

the limit value curve remains linear with a slope of 60 % compared to the baseline fleet which is kept as the 2006 fleet in line with the 2015 limit value curve;

super-credits for cars emitting below 35 g CO2/km are introduced between 2020 and 2023 with a multiplier of 1,3 and limited to a cumulative figure of 20 000 vehicles per manufacturer over the duration of the scheme;

the ‘niche’ derogation target is updated for 2020;

manufacturers responsible for fewer than 500 registrations of new passenger cars per year are excluded from the obligation of having a CO2 target;

more flexibility is allowed in the timing of decisions granting small-volume derogations;

eco-innovations are retained when a revised test procedure is implemented; and

the Excess Emissions Premium is maintained at EUR 95 per g/km per vehicle.

2.4

To meet the target on light commercial vehicles by 2020, the Commission sets out the following modalities:

the utility parameter continues to be vehicle's mass in running order;

the limit value curve remains linear with a slope of 100 % compared to the baseline fleet;

manufacturers responsible for fewer than 500 registrations of new light commercial vehicles per year are excluded from the obligation to meet their specific emissions target;

more flexibility is allowed in the timing of decisions granting small-volume derogations;

eco-innovations are retained when a revised test procedure is implemented; and

the Excess Emissions Premium is maintained at EUR 95 per g/km per vehicle.

2.5

The targets set will cut average emissions from new cars to 95 grams of CO2 per km in 2020 from 135,7 g in 2011 with a mandatory target of 130 g in 2015. Emissions from vans will be reduced to 147 g CO2/km in 2020 from 181,4 g in 2010 (the latest year for which figures are available) with a mandatory target of 175 g in 2017.

3.   Introduction

3.1

Consistent with its previous opinions regarding legislative proposals on human activities that cause a rise in CO2 emissions, the Committee endorses the goal of achieving increasingly stringent GHG emission reduction targets and believes that changing the behaviour of producers and consumers is fundamental to mitigating climate change. Accordingly, consideration should be given to every reasonable action that might bring about a tangible reduction in emissions from cars and light commercial vehicles, which together account for around 15 % of the EU's total CO2 emissions, including emissions from fuel supply.

3.1.1

The Committee believes that bolstering post-2020 EU legislation is essential to maintaining Europe's position as a global technology leader, largely due to its substantial investments in innovation, in combination with a demanding home market.

3.1.2

The Committee strongly supports the proposed changes to the legislative framework on reducing carbon dioxide emissions for new cars and light commercial vehicles post-2020, which set out clear targets in efficient legislation, offering a clear and stable direction for the investment that will further stimulate innovation by vehicle manufacturers and parts suppliers, further strengthening the competitive edge of this European industry.

3.1.3

The Committee believes that the introduction of modern and unified rules will improve market surveillance with a view to establishing healthy competition among EU manufacturers of more consumption- and emissions-efficient technologies.

3.1.4

The Committee notes that net savings for consumers are envisaged; the Commission's analysis shows that the 2020 targets are achievable and economically sound. The targets are cost-effective, the technology is readily available on the market, and its implementation should boost employment, benefiting consumers and industry.

4.   Comments

4.1   Passenger cars – COM(2012) 393 final

4.1.1

The Committee points out that passenger cars are responsible for around 12,5 % of the EU's total CO2 emissions. As the quantity of CO2 produced is directly proportional to the quantity of fuel consumed, low-carbon vehicles are more fuel-efficient and more economical to run over their lifetime.

4.1.2

The car market has been hard hit by the economic crisis over the past five years. New registrations in the first nine months of 2012 fell by 7,6 % and by 10,8 % in September, compared to the same period of 2011.

4.1.3

The Committee notes with satisfaction the progress of the policies implemented and the increase in consumer awareness revealed in recent studies by the European Environment Agency. New registered vehicles are tending to become increasingly emissions-efficient and, in 2012, have almost reached the interim target for 2015.

Evolution of CO2 emissions from new passenger cars by fuel (EU-27) (2)

Image

4.1.4

The Committee believes it is vital to look at the cost-benefit analysis for the net savings for consumers. Each new car will on average save its owner around EUR 340 in fuel costs in the first year, and an estimated total of EUR 2 904 – 3 836 over the car's lifetime (13 years), as compared with the 2015 target.

4.2   The Committee reiterates its proposal that footprint be adopted as the utility parameter instead of mass. This would have the following advantages:

further reduction of emissions;

reduction in the mass of vehicles;

significant fuel savings;

development of materials and research; and

incentivising more modest purchases, giving priority to functionality and efficiency.

4.3   The Committee believes that the decision to keep the linear function at 60 % runs counter to the stated intention of further improving the vehicles' emissions profile. While this political compromise may safeguard a few European companies, it is detrimental to the public as a whole.

4.4   Light commercial vehicles – COM(2012) 394 final

4.4.1

The Committee points out that light commercial vehicles (LCV) are responsible for around 1,5 % of the EU's total CO2 emissions. As the quantity of CO2 produced is directly proportional to the quantity of fuel consumed, low-carbon vehicles are more fuel-efficient and more economical to run over their lifetime.

4.4.1.1

Diesel fuel for LCV represents about one third of the total cost of ownership, estimated at about EUR 2 400 euro per year.

4.4.1.2

LCV emissions increased by 26 % between 1990 and 2010.

4.4.2

The LCV market has been severely affected by the economic crisis of recent years, with new registrations suffering their worst fall in 2009 (– 29,5 %); however, in contrast to the car sector, it has since seen an upward trend (+ 8,7 % in 2010 and 7,5 % in 2011). The first ten months of 2012 saw sales decline again by 10,6 %.

4.4.3

The Committee thinks that the proposal in question, which is modelled on the impact of the regulation for passenger cars, underestimates the differences between cars and LCV, such as:

the longer development and production cycle than for passenger cars;

the function of these vehicles, which are used for business activities in which engine efficiency and fuel consumption are often the most significant operating costs; it is no coincidence that 97 % of the LCV fleet run on diesel;

the profile of buyers, over 90 % of which are SME craft businesses which are highly sensitive to any variation in cost.

4.4.4

The Committee believes it is vital to carry out cost-benefit analyses that take into account both the increase in costs resulting from bringing new cars and LCV into line with the new legislation and the net savings for consumers. Each new LCV will on average save its owner around EUR 400 in fuel costs in the first year, and an estimated total of EUR 3 363 – 4 564 over the LCV's lifetime (13 years), as compared with the 2017 interim target.

4.4.5

In the light of the foregoing, and while confirming the need to cut CO2 emissions, the Committee is in favour of a new phasing-in for future targets in line with the lead time for the sector (7-10 years as opposed to 5-7 for cars).

4.5   Information and standardisation

4.5.1   The Committee agrees with the Commission that end-users should receive reliable, clear and comparable information on the economic and environmental savings offered by vehicles on the market.

4.5.2   One instrument that has proven very effective is labelling. The Committee recommends that the Commission explore the possibility of extending the obligation regarding labelling of emissions, calculated according to the life-cycle (LCA) principle. Information that is clear, exhaustive, accessible and, above all, readily understandable, would help consumers make more informed and conscious choices, triggering a virtuous circle of good practice.

4.5.3   The current Directive 1999/94/EC does not lay down precise requirements, but rather a ‘minimum’ of information in this regard, which is open to wide interpretation by the individual Member States. Indeed, some Member States have been using the ‘‘relative label’’, which provides ambiguous information benchmarked to the segment in which the particular car belongs, without giving precise details on the emissions of that particular vehicle. This system misleads the consumer, who, seeing a category 1 label, is led to believe that the car produces few emissions in absolute terms, whereas the data is relative only to its particular vehicle class. Thus a luxury car in segment F may emit 5 times as much as a small car and be labelled class A, while a small car can be, relative to its segment, class D. Along the lines of what was done, for example, with domestic appliances, the Commission should propose what any sensible person would want: an ‘‘absolute’’ label, e.g. class A for vehicles emitting less than 100 g/km, B for between 101 and 120, with precise details of the emissions from each and using the same colours throughout Europe.

4.5.4   The Committee approves the measures adopted to disseminate this consumer information.

4.5.5   The Committee supports all initiatives related to consumer education to be undertaken over time that will lead to prudent choices in relation to ‘carbon-free’ vehicles and the economic benefits deriving from the savings that will ultimately be achieved.

4.5.6   The Committee is pleased to note that operators are being called on to press ahead with their efforts in research and development, to ensure investment in new technologies for green vehicles, and points out that it will be essential to maintain the Commission's proposal to invest the EUR 80 billion provided for in the Horizon 2020 budget for the period 2014-2020.

4.5.7   Energy

4.5.7.1

The Committee highlights the idea of developing a strategy that promotes green means of transport (cars and LCV), to combat carbon emissions.

4.5.7.2

The Committee favours the option of a gradual shift of the EU car fleet to zero emissions, leading to a change in energy vector, in order to achieve the long-term targets.

4.5.8   Sustainable products

The Committee has repeatedly underlined the vital importance of sustainable development for the future of Europe. It thus endorses the Commission's guidelines on making products more sustainable and encouraging the widespread dissemination of eco-design for all products, and primarily those that use fossil resources.

Brussels, 12 December 2012.

The President of the European Economic and Social Committee

Staffan NILSSON


(1)  COM(2011) 885 final.

(2)  http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/monitoring-co2-emissions-from-new


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