Trade union position on CO2 emissions targets for cars
On the 13th of September 2017, IndustriAll, the European trade union of workers in manufacturing, mining and energy, published its position paper on CO2 reduction from road transport.
CO2 emissions targets for cars must be environmentally ambitious, technically realistic & socially acceptable
In the late 1990s European car manufacturers made voluntary agreements to reduce passenger car CO2 emissions, but it was mainly after the introduction of mandatory standards that substantial emissions’ reductions were achieved. In 2009, the EU introduced mandatory CO2 standards for passenger cars for the first time. The 2009 regulation set a 2015 target of 130g/km for the fleet average of all constructors combined. Depending on the average vehicle weight, individual manufacturers were allowed to have higher emissions. At the end of 2013 the European Parliament and the Council agreed to reduce CO2 standards further to 95g/km by 2021.
The average CO2 emission level of new cars dropped from about 172.2g/km in 2006 to 119.6g/km in 2014 (minus 2% per year). The legal target of 130g/km set for 2015 has been met two years early. The required reduction for the current period (2015-2021) is 27% for all manufacturers. Altogether the new standards for 2021 represent a 40% reduction compared to 2007 levels.
For industriAll Europe, the EU CO2 legislation for passenger cars has largely been successful in reducing emissions, driving low-carbon innovation in a technology-neutral way, while at the same time guaranteeing investment security to manufacturers. Therefore, new and ambitious emissions’ limits have to be set for the post-2021 period as a major step towards achieving the EU’s climate goals. At the same time, these new emission standards must be technically achievable and economically viable, while the possible negative impact on employment has to be addressed.
In the debate on setting future emission standards industriAll Europe wants to put forward the following elements:
- Emission standards must be part of clear and long-term roadmaps in order to respect the need for this very complex sector with its extended supply chain to have investment and planning security
- Tighter emission standards will only be achieved by speeding-up the electrification of transport. However, as the projected future market penetration of zero emission vehicles (battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, hydrogen) entails considerable economic and technological uncertainty (forecasts for 2025 range from 5% to 50% of new car sales), industriAll Europe proposes a twin strategy.
- First of all, reducing the real-life CO2-emissions for conventional cars by at least 1.5% per year until 2030 e.g. by realizing the full potential of equipping ICE (internal combustion engine)-powered cars with an alternative energy source. Indeed, industriAll Europe is convinced that further CO2 reduction potential for ICE-cars exists. However, it would be difficult to maintain the linear reduction of the past because of physical limits to further downsizing and optimizing.
- Secondly, by coordinated and ambitious programmes to promote the uptake of electrical cars with a view to increasing their market share by at least 1% per year until 2030 (underpinned by financial and non-financial incentives and the rolling out of charging infrastructure).
- (Clean) Diesel deserves further support as a transitional technology. Diesel engines emit 10 to 20% less CO2 and are thus necessary to reach tighter European emission standards. This requires the industry to outfit diesel cars with catalytic systems (like SCR) that respect the emission limits for nitrogen oxide in real-world driving conditions.
- Full social and economic impact assessments of new standards and diffusion of electro-mobility are required in order to assess the impact on the EU automotive supply chain. This should be complemented by industrial policies to maintain and strengthen the presence of European companies in the full supply chain (battery technologies included) and to ensure the industrial reconversion of regions that are adversely affected by the transition to a low-carbon transport system. A ‘just transition’ for the workers concerned should be ensured by income guarantees, internal mobility inside the company, a smooth transition to new jobs, up- and re-skilling, etc.
- Cars must remain affordable for ordinary people. Even if stricter emission standards reduce fuel costs, higher purchase prices of cars because they are fitted with low-carbon technologies constitute a serious barrier for people on moderate incomes
- Other modes of transport such as aviation and shipping should also contribute to the achievement of the EU’s objectives for reducing transport emissions
- A holistic mobility strategy based on a more efficient use of transport fleets, introduction of traffic management systems to monitor traffic flows, integration of private and public transport will also contribute to reducing emissions
- Incentives to rejuvenate the ageing European car fleet and to replace older cars with new and less polluting ones will help to further de-carbonise the transport fleet
- Future emission standards should be based on real-life driving conditions. Therefore, industriAll Europe supports the WLTP introduction of WLTP (World harmonised Light vehicle Test Procedure) and RDE (Real Driving Emissions test)
- As technology is progressing rapidly, industriAll Europe calls for regular assessments of the implementation of the new emission standards and to take into account new technological developments
Emissions’ standards should support both environmental and industrial objectives. They should support industry in remaining at the cutting edge of low carbon technologies. This is the best guarantee to support value added creation and jobs in an industry which is a cornerstone of Europe’s industrial fabric.
That being said, the social consequences of structural change must not be disregarded. According to Luc Triangle, General-Secretary of industriAll Europe; “The automotive sector employs 2.5 million workers with one out of three working on conventional technologies. In the EU, there are about 126 plants making combustion engines and power trains, employing 112,000 people. While the average combustion engine takes about 3.5 hours to make and an average transmission requires 2.7 hours, an electric motor which doesn’t need a transmission, takes only 1 hour to produce “. “Electrification and digitalisation will put many jobs at risk in manufacturing and this social challenge must not be denied when setting new emission standards or objectives for electrification; Europe needs urgently to address the social consequences of this transition” , Luc Triangle concludes.
In: Environment & Energy