EU ministers call for higher CO2 emission targets

In a letter to the editor of the Financial Times the ministers of six EU countries call on their colleagues to follow the European Parliament’s example and set higher, more ambitious CO2 reduction targets for passenger cars and vans.

Let’s not give carmakers a free ride to Paris

Tomorrow, EU ministers will discuss CO2 reduction targets for passenger cars and vans. We will also discuss the EU’s goals for the COP24 in Katowice. To ensure the success of our climate efforts, it is crucial that we secure a fair contribution from the transport sector.

The EU has been instrumental in reaching an ambitious climate agreement in Paris, and has recently taken a number of steps to secure the goals set in 2015. We agreed to revise the Emissions Trading System, increase the share of renewables in the energy sector, and step up efforts on energy efficiency. But while other sectors are picking up the pace, emissions in the transport sector are still rising. Car manufacturers may get a free ride to Paris.

 As your paper reported last week, the European Parliament voted to curb that trend. But the deal isn’t done yet. Several member states as well as the European Commission are concerned about possible job losses in the industry. We share these concerns. But stating that higher ambition would equal less employment overlooks certain key facts. Higher reduction targets and the transition to low- and zero-emission mobility can actually create over 200.000 new jobs by 2030 in both the automotive and supply chain sector, as well as in the wider European economy.

Sales figures for (plug-in) hybrid- and electric vehicles are rising – VW, Daimler, BMW, Toyota, and Volvo all expect their sales to reach 20-50% by 2025 – and it thus seems contradictory that the industry would lobby against higher targets. They are already outpacing the Commission’s proposal. As EU ministers, we need to make sure these cars will be produced and driven inside the EU. Right now, European car makers invest seven times more in electric vehicle production in China than in Europe. This investment and the jobs it brings should come back to Europe.

 In our joint effort to reach the Paris goals, we should create a stable home market for zero- and low emission vehicles. Just like we have done for other sectors, we stand willing to support those who need help in the transition to a low carbon economy. The move towards zero-emission transport can be an advance for growth and jobs in Europe, provided we set the car industry on the right path.

Stientje van Veldhoven
State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management – the Netherlands

Lars Christian Lilleholt
Minister for Energy, Utilities, and Climate – Denmark

Sokratis Famellos
Alternate Minister of Environment and Energy – Greece

Denis Naughten
Minister for Communications, Climate Action, and Environment – Ireland

Shane Ross
Minister for Transport, Tourism, and Sport – Ireland

Claude Turmes
Secretary of State for Sustainable Development and Infrastructure – Luxemburg

Jure Leben
Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning – Slovenia

This letter to the editor was published in the Financial Times on 8 October 2018.