CO2 emissions of light-duty vehicles: no time to waste

By Karima Delli, MEP, (pictured)
Autumn 2022

Ismail Ertug, MEPThe representatives of the European Parliament and the Czech presidency of the Council of the EU will bear a huge responsibility over the coming months when it comes to phasing out internal combustion engine vehicles.
The upcoming weeks and months will be of massive importance for the EU citizens and the planet. While both the European Parliament and the Council of the EU have agreed on their initial position on the main features of the 'Fit for 55' package [the climate package], the 2022 second semester will be absolutely decisive to fight climate change.

Road transport has a key role to play in this regard. The last official fi gures provided by the European Environment Agency are non-equivoque: transport is responsible for about 25% of the overall CO2 emissions in the EU, and it is the only sector where emissions have increased since 1990 (around 30%). And 70% of CO2 emissions of the transport sector comes from road transport.

Given those figures, there is an urgent need to undertake concrete measures in this sector to comply with our climate objectives, carbon neutrality by 2050. This is why the European Commission, in the framework of the climate package, proposed to revise the regulation on CO2 emissions of light-duty vehicles last year,

As chairwoman of the 'transport and tourism' committee of the European Parliament, and as Green Member of the European Parliament, my stance has always been very clear: we must phase out internal combustion engine vehicles as soon as possible. Most of the car manufacturers are ready for such a shift. Some important players have indeed planned to stop commercialising new internal combustion engine vehicles by 2030, or 2035 at the latest.

Given the fact that the average car life-expectancy is about 15 years, 2035 must be the absolute deadline for such an end. This is why the Green/EFA group in the European Parliament has been very significantly active on this file. And as rapporteur of the TRAN opinion (the 'environment' committee of the European Parliament leads the file), I have been intensively dedicated for that purpose.

Where do we stand right now?
After a long marathon, both the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union (the Member States) are ready to enter the final stage of the negotiations. The EU institutional system requires the Member States and the Members of the European Parliament to define a 'negotiating position' on their own side, before starting the socalled 'trialogues' (inter-institutional negotiations).

The 'trialogues' put together the current presidency of the Council of the EU (to represent the Member States), the representatives of the European Parliament (to represent the people) and the European Commission (to represent the EU's interests). Those meetings aim at getting an agreement between both co-legislators, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU (like in a classic bicameral system). This agreement is supposed to become the final binding text.

After both co-legislators have agreed on a negotiating position in June this year, those trialogues are supposed to start.

What concrete outcomes should we expect? It is not unusual that the EP's and the Council's positions are very different. The interinstitutional talks could then become quite tough and tricky, with very 'EU way compromises'.

Although there are some significant differences here, the overall goal and the final objectives the EP and the Council have agreed on are quite similar. The main point is indeed to stop selling new internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035. Everyone agrees on that fact, which is pretty good news.

The mid-term targets are not the same in both negotiating positions, as some technical mechanisms differ.

The Council also aims at opening the doors for a new revision of targets in the future, which, for me, is quite unacceptable. This is then something we will try to overturn in the final and decisive talks.

Speeding to make that reform a reality as soon as possible
Since both approaches are not that different, I call on the Czech presidency of the Council of the European Union (which started on 1 July) to set up trialogues as soon as possible. The European Parliament is fully ready to deal with the final stage.

Again, the climate emergency is here, no one can deny it. We are the first generation to suffer from the consequences of climate change, as well as the last one to be able to try to reverse that trend. There is therefore no time to waste!

If we do not act right now, we will lose the whole battle. The most vulnerable people will be the first victims of climate change, while the final result for worldwide citizens is pretty clear.

It is of course up to all the stakeholders, which means policymakers, public bodies and companies, to take drastic decision and undertake clear and massive measures. Everyone should be on board.

But when it comes to the EU institutions, our responsibility here is simple: finding a deal by the end of the year, to make this new regulation applicable as soon as possible.

I really hope we can make it. I am sure we are able to make it. And I am quite confident we will make it. We will not be forgiven if we do not take responsibility today and we need to make future generations' life possible.

About the author
Karima Delli has been elected Member of the European Parliament in 2009.

She became chairwoman of the 'transport and tourism' committee of the European Parliament in 2017.

As Green MEP, she has fought a lot to make transport more sustainable and cleaner since she has been working on this issue.

She was shadow rapporteur of the TRAN opinion on this file, before Petar Vitanov (S&D, Bulgarian) stepped back from his rapporteur position. MEP Delli then became the new rapporteur of the TRAN opinion.