MEPs clash over car emissions

MEPs to discuss controversial 'super-credits' scheme.

MEPs are split over European Commission plans to force carmakers to meet emissions targets for 2020.

Under the Commission’s proposal, carmakers would gain extra credit toward meeting their average fleet emissions cap for each vehicle they produce that emits less than 35 grams of CO2 per kilometre (CO2/km). Each electric vehicle would count as 1.3 cars. 

Thomas Ulmer, a centre-right German MEP who is guiding the legislation through the Parliament, has proposed expanding the controversial ‘super-credits’ system.  

German carmakers have lobbied heavily for the super-credits scheme, but environmental campaigners say it weakens the targets and works to the benefit of German carmakers, who tend to make larger vehicles, at the expense of carmakers that make smaller vehicles, such as those in France and Italy.  

Ulmer has proposed that the super-credits scheme be expanded by raising the threshold for which cars receive the credits, and changing the amount that they count toward the target. “It is larger vehicles that generally play a pioneering role in vehicle technology,” says a leaked draft of the Ulmer report seen by European Voice. “The rapporteur feels compelled to propose a realistic system of incentives, which will promote the development and use of new, less environmentally-damaging propulsion concepts.”  

Environmental group T&E says this would allows fleet emissions to average out at 105g CO2/km – higher than the 95g limit proposed by the Commission.  

“A 95g CO2/km target in 2020 will lead to fuel savings of €344-€465 per year,” said Monique Goyens, director general of consumers organisation BEUC. “Plans to introduce super-credits allowing car manufacturers producing ultra-low emitting vehicles to make their conventional vehicles less efficient risk diluting these monetary benefits.”  

Fiona Hall, a British Liberal MEP who is in charge of guiding the legislation through the Parliament’s industry committee, wants the super-credits scheme to be scrapped. She wants to replace the credits scheme with a ‘flexible low carbon vehicle mandate’ that would penalise carmakers if less than 2% of their fleet is made up of low-carbon vehicles.

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