The European Environment Agency (EEA), my former employer, has published the latest in the series of reports about CO2 emissions for new vans and cars.
As shown in the graph below, there is a big mismatch between the trendline and the 2021 target which requires a very substantial drop in average emissions. Perhaps the manufacturers are banking on the continuing ‘march’ of the low-emission vehicle?
A recent upturn in the average values reflects an increasing predilection for SUVs for EU citizens. This is a shame from the perspective of climate policy; they are generally heavier and less efficient.
The shockwaves of #Dieselgate continue to reverberate, with another fall in diesel registrations – 9% decrease in the last year to 36% of the total market – bringing the total decline to 19% since the peak year of 2011.
The glimmer of hope is that the market share for hybrid and Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) has increased from 1% to 2% from 2016 to 2018. Continued exponential growth may yet bring transport emissions on track.
The wheels of regulation turn slowly. Although it was common knowledge that the manufacturers ‘gamed’ the energy efficiency tests, nothing could be done about it due to the power of the manufacturer lobby in Brussels.
Dieselgate finally tipped the power balance in favour of the regulators, and ‘real world’ conditions will be required from 2021.
The UK’s place
With the UK having left the EU, and looking as though it will ‘crash out’ with no deal, it seems likely that this will be the last time that ‘our’ statistics are included as part of the EEA’s work.
Whether this leads to a reduction in CO2 requirements in the UK is unclear. The UK Government appears paralysed between wanting to ‘act’ on CO2, and grimly understanding that there will be horrific economic consequences from leaving the EU without a deal at the end of the year. Maybe they will want to toss regulations out of the window in order to ‘cut costs’ (which in reality will just shift the burden to the population at large and reduce costs to the polluter)? Or maybe Michael Gove was telling the truth when he challenged the EU to an environmental race.
Words are cheap. Action has meaning. This Government has so far shown a distinct preference for the former.
As usual, Wales has very little say in what happens to this line of regulation in future, which is a UK matter. If the UK Government decide that they want to (indirectly) reward polluters by weakening the environmental requirements for new vehicles, there is nothing that the Welsh Government can do to stop it, despite there being a direct inherent contradiction with both the Act for the Well-being of Future Generations, and the constitutional obligation to sustainability.
So, as usual, we’ll just have to cross our fingers and suck up whatever’s decided the other end of the M4.