The European Union is a monolithic institution that governs the way we live and it has given rise to ‘Euromyths’. These are exaggerated or false stories that appear from time to time in the media and elsewhere lambasting purportedly nonsensical EU legislation. Possibly the most famous ones are about the ‘straight’ banana and the standardised cucumber. Legislation is usually seen as a good idea at the time but unless you are Mystic Meg foretelling actual outcomes is difficult.
The Emissions Saga
Car industry groups and commentators across Europe are concerned that a EU target to cut CO² emissions from cars by 37.5% and from commercial vans by 31% by 2030 (when compared to 2021 levels and only a scant ten years away) would threaten both customer choice and car manufacturing jobs, directly and indirectly.
When it comes to legislation we can but hope that the European Parliament members have done their homework thoroughly when they agree these reductions because getting it wrong for political expediency is risky. It is clear that the car industry is worried. One industry leader pointed out that nobody knows today how the agreed limits can be achieved in the time allowed.
In the efforts to reduce greenhouse gases the negotiations towards this agreement have been fraught because of the differences between vehicle-producing countries and the massed ranks of environmentally-conscious MEPs. As it turns out the negotiated result is even tougher than the original EU proposal of an emissions reduction of thirty percent, again compared to 2021. They have even fixed an even shorter term target for both cars and vans of 15% by year 2025. It should be pointed out that these targets are yet to be officially ratified by the full parliament but this is usually a rubber-stamp exercise.
Within the motor industry research is always on-going on the science of cutting emissions and cost-saving just as it is on R&D for new models. Nevertheless the car industry has been warning for some time now that these ever-tougher targets and the drive towards more electric cars could truly harm the car manufacturing base and thus cost jobs in the longer term. In short, what they are saying is that legislation has first to be doable, regardless of political desire. There is a difference between what is plausible and what is realistic.
Forgetting autonomous cars for now, the race is well and truly on to produce zero-emission cars. This latest legislation means that by 2030 a third of new cars produced will have to be electric or hydrogen-powered. Right now electric vehicles only have a market share of around 1.5% because the range and public charging issues still affect car buyer selection.
About fifteen million motors are sold each year in the European bloc with cars, they say, accounting for more than a tenth of overall CO² emissions, this being the main culprit for rising global temperatures. That’s the balance that has to be struck in the end. We all want a cleaner planet but change also has to be realistic. That’s why all the cars
sold on these pages are AA inspected
and have their emissions figure clearly stated to properly inform buyer choice.