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Driving down greenhouse gas emissions - 30/08/2011

New measure will encourage car makers to invest in CO2 reduction technologies, part of the EU's overall approach to climate change.

The EU is at the forefront in tackling climate change - committed to three 3 key targets by 2020: slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, drawing 20% of energy from renewable sources and cutting energy use by 20%.

Meeting the targets requires action on many fronts. For example, car makers are required to reduce CO2 emissions from all new passenger vehicles to around one-fifth below 2007 levels by 2015. Cars are currently responsible for 12% of the EU's emissions of CO2, the main greenhouse gas.

In addition, a new measure encourages car manufacturers to invest in new emission-reducing technologies and get them certified. To qualify, the technology must make significant CO2 savings and cannot already have been taken into account in determining emissions.

The technology should also improve vehicle propulsion or energy consumption - without compromising safety. So, for example, solar panels converting sunlight into electric energy could qualify but an energy-efficient in-car music system would not.

Other measures

The measures for cars are part of an overall approach the EU is taking to reduce climate change. This includes

  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions from industry via the Emissions Trading System, a key tool for meeting the EU's targets
  • improving the energy efficiency of a wide array of equipment and household appliances
  • requiring the increased use of wind, solar, hydro, biomass and biofuels
  • supporting the development of technologies to trap and store CO2
  • co-funding research and innovation development through the EU's LIFE programme

Further steps

These measures have helped the EU remain on track to reach its emissions and renewable energy goals. But, at the present rate of progress, it will achieve only half the targeted energy reductions.

To catch up, the Commission is proposing binding energy-efficiency measures.

EU efforts to tackle climate change as a top priority - while still meeting Europe's energy needs - are part of its Europe 2020 growth strategy.

More on the EU's approach to climate change

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