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Road transport: Reducing CO2 emissions from vehicles

Road transport contributes about one-fifth of the EU's total emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas. While these emissions fell by 3.3% in 2012, they are still 20.5% higher than in 1990. Transport is the only major sector in the EU where greenhouse gas emissions are still rising.

Evening traffic jam with brake lights © Digital Vision/Digital Vision

Light-duty vehicles

Light-duty vehicles – cars and vans – produce around 15% of the EU's emissions of CO2.

EU legislation sets binding emission targets for new car and van fleets. As the automotive industry works towards meeting these targets, average emissions are falling each year.

The targets for 2015 (for cars) and 2017 (for vans) were achieved already in 2013.

Legislation requires the Commission to propose post-2020 targets by the end of 2015. The aim is to cut emissions further while giving the automotive industry the certainty it needs to carry out long-term investments and develop innovative technologies.

CO2 labelling of cars

To help drivers choose new cars with low fuel consumption, EU legislation requires Member States to ensure that relevant information is provided to consumers, including a label showing a car's fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions.

Heavy-duty vehicles

Heavy-duty vehicles – trucks and buses – are responsible for about a quarter of CO2 emissions from road transport in the EU and for some 6% of total EU emissions.

Despite some improvements in fuel consumption efficiency in recent years, these emissions are still rising, mainly due to increasing road freight traffic.

The Commission is working on a comprehensive strategy to reduce CO2 emissions from heavy-duty vehicles in both freight and passenger transport.

Fuel quality

Fuel quality is an important element in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport. EU legislation requires the greenhouse gas intensity of vehicle fuels to be cut by up to 10% by 2020.

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