Climate

Europe Votes to Cut Auto CO2 Emissions 40% by 2030

The European Parliament (EP) on October 3 approved a proposal for yet another big cut in auto carbon dioxide emissions in the EU.

The BMW Hydrogen 7 model, photographed in 2016. European automakers will have to produce a lot more of these and other near zero-emissions vehicles if the proposed EP CO2 emissions rules are approved. Photo: More Cars, CC

That 40% cut would be on top of existing European Union rules. Those call for automobile manufacturers to hit average CO2 emissions of 95 grams per kilograms or lower by 2021, across their entire fleet of cars. The new target of 57 grams per kilogram, 38 grams (40%) lower, would have to be achieved only 9 years later. Those companies who fail to meet the targets would be fined.

The draft law will be reviewed by the EU executive commission on October 10.

In addition to the total pollution output targets, on October 3 the EP also approved two other related rule changes for discussion at the October 10 meeting. They are proposing that EU automakers must produce battery-equipped vehicles with near-zero exhaust gas emissions as 35% of their production in 2030. A proposal was also approved requesting the European Commission in two years to have a plan in place to conduct CO2 emissions testing using a portable device.

The intent of pushing these changes forward now is to have negotiating room when the United Nations holds its next summit on how to keep the 2015 Paris climate change accords on track. That happens just three months from now in at the COP24 conference in Katowice, Poland, in December.

European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association chief Erik Jonnaert called the new rules “extremely aggressive” and expressed concerns that they could hurt jobs and the European auto economy in general. He said that, “There is no guarantee that we have the right enabling framework in place to facilitate the transition to electromobility.”

The emissions cap reduction request was tough enough, but the demand to move to a mix of 35% of auto production to EVs of one kind or another is an even more difficult one to imagine for automakers. With electric cars currently running at just 1 percent of the global auto market, this is a very steep rise just from a manufacturing perspective. Tight supplies in the current battery technologies of cobalt and nickel, both of which are mandatory for making lithium-ion batteries, could also limit growth in this area. (See “The Cobalt Connection”, published on Trillions.biz, to learn more about the scramble for companies and governments to get their share of cobalt for the rechargeable battery markets.)

Changing the rules could accelerate development of alternative electrical storage technologies not so dependent on cobalt and nickel. Those rule changes are also expected to cause automakers to release more hydrogen-powered vehicles in years between now and 2030.

In a parallel move, on October 3 German cabinet ministers reviewed a plan to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel vehicles within the more polluted cities in the country. This was directly connected to the diesel emissions cheating scandal most often tied just to Volkswagen, but which has been discovered to be a problem for a large percentage of German automakers.

Many will be watching carefully at what the automakers already were planning to do on their own, before these rule changes were proposed. They will get a good chance when new electric vehicles and hydrogen-powered cars are unveiled at the Paris Motor Show, opening on October 4.