The long awaited meeting of European commissioners debating the vexed problem of automotive emissions took place yesterday, with an outcome that will cause controversy in the industry.
As a result of the meeting, van drivers will be getting commercial vehicle insurance quotes on vans that must produce lower emissions from 2017 onwards. The good news for the van fleet industry is that the emission targets will be considerably less than was first proposed and also come in a little later.
As is usual in EU politics it took several behind the scenes private meetings before the negotiators could come to agreement. There had been a stand-off between national environment ministers and EU commissioners as the latter were still keen to get their original targets of compliance on the statute book.
It is thought the giant car making countries including Italy, Germany and France had pushed for a relaxation of the emission targets as the motor industry is still struggling to come out of recession, and it does seem as though they eventually won the day. The new limit will be 175 grams of CO2/KM and will come into place 12 months later than scheduled in 2017. Further negotiations resulted in the even more ambitious reductions for 2020 being altered as well. Instead of the planned target of 135 grams of CO2/KM the car manufacturing lobby managed to get the new limit set at 147grams of CO2/KM.
The EU commissioners still put a brave face on the deal when announcing that the new limits would contribute to cutting carbon emissions across Europe.
Not everyone was happy though. Kirsten Meyer, a spokeswomen for Transport and Environment, a group that campaign for a motor industry that is cleaner and more responsive to the needs of the environment, said the result of the meeting was disappointing. She claimed that the car industry had managed to make more swingeing cuts on emissions in a much shorter time frame and that EU policymakers had let the commercial vehicle manufacturers off the hook.
In response the European Carmakers Association said that in their opinion anything less than 160grams of CO2/KG was not feasible before 2020 and the commissioners should be more than happy with the result they have got. The industry can at least concentrate on hitting the targets now that the talking has stopped.