New car CO2 still rising as carmakers push polluting SUVs one year before deadline
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New car CO2 still rising as carmakers push polluting SUVs one year before deadline

Carbon pollution from new cars increased again last year, by 1.3% on average, according to the EU’s environmental watchdog, the EEA.[1] Green group Transport & Environment (T&E) said the repeated rise in car CO2 is due to manufacturers continuing to sell highly-polluting SUVs until the last possible moment before pushing cleaner models to comply with the 2020/21 climate target.

The provisional data shows that new cars sold in 2019 emitted 122.4 grams of CO2 per km - up 1.6g/km on the previous year’s average. Currently carmakers in the EU have to meet five-year emissions targets, with the last standard enforced back in 2015. This allows them to delay the roll-out of cleaner vehicles until the last minute. T&E said that during the planned review of CO2 targets in 2021, the EU should move to annual or bi-annual deadlines.

Julia Poliscanova, senior director for clean vehicles at T&E, said: “It’s a scandal that one year out from their CO2 target, carmakers are still pushing gas-guzzling SUVs. The EU must stop this maximising of profits at the cost of public health and the planet by bringing in annual or bi-annual emissions targets. That way carmakers will bring the zero-emissions cars they have developed to the forecourt quicker.”

Heavier and less aerodynamic – and therefore less fuel efficient – than other cars, SUVs now account for a whopping 38% of new cars sold in Europe – up from almost a third in 2018 and from 7% in 2008 [1]. The average petrol SUV sold last year increased its emissions to 134g/km while the average of other petrol cars sold was around 121g/km.

Worryingly, SUVs would qualify to receive post-Covid purchase incentives under emissions thresholds being discussed in Italy and Spain. T&E said no fossil fuel cars with emissions above 95g (which is the EU 2020/21 target) should receive taxpayers’ support.

Julia Poliscanova concluded: “Carmakers who recklessly choose to push lucrative SUVs are now asking for taxpayers’ money to prolong the polluting bonanza. National scrappage schemes should only support the transition to emissions-free cars and a more competitive, future-proof auto industry.”

Notes to editors:

[1] The EEA published provisional data for the average CO2 emissions from new passenger cars registered in the EU, Iceland, Norway and the UK in 2019.

[2] Historic SUV and diesel EU market shares are from ICCT’s Pocketbook:

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