CO2 Emissions From New Cars See Biggest Ever Fall

Average CO2 emissions from new cars sold in the EU dropped by 5% last year, the biggest annual fall ever recorded, a report published this week by the European Commission shows.  

The Commission has also adopted detailed rules to harmonise the monitoring of CO2 emissions from cars across the EU. 

Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said: "Reducing CO2 emissions from road transport remains a major challenge for the years to come. The latest data shows however  that the car industry is on track to achieve the 2015 target and several major manufacturers may be able to do so well in advance.  When the targets were set, industry feared that they would be impossible to reach in time.  I am glad that in reality EU legislation on reducing CO2 emissions is proving an effective driver of innovation, keeping the EU industry at the front-edge of competitiveness."


1. Annual monitoring report

The Commission report summarising data on emissions from new passenger cars for the monitoring year 2009 shows a 5.1% drop in average CO2 emissions against the previous year - the largest annual fall since the monitoring scheme began in 2000.

Moreover a slight decrease in the power, engine capacity and weight of cars, seen for the first time in 2008, accelerated last year. This was due to a combination of the economic crisis, the scrappage schemes introduced in some Member States and increased demand for and development of more fuel-efficient vehicles.

The EU CO2 emissions target of 130g CO2/km that is to be met in 2012 by the average 65% lowest emitting cars was reached last year. Considering the average fuel efficiency improvements achieved over the past seven years, several large volume manufacturers are expected to reach the 2015 target a few years in advance if this trend continues.

2. Monitoring rules

The Commission has also adopted detailed rules and guidance to harmonise the EU scheme for monitoring CO2 emissions from cars and ensure its correct functioning. This forms part of the implementation of the Regulation[1]  on CO2 from cars. The rules include instructions to Member States, and provide car industry with a time table for the delivery of data.


The 130 grams per kilometre (g/km) CO2 limit for new cars registered in the EU will be phased in gradually. In 2012 the average emission target covers emissions from the 65% lowest emitting cars. From 2015 all cars are included in the calculation of the average.

Road transport generates about one fifth of all CO2 emissions in the EU, with cars being responsible for more than half of overall transport emissions. CO2 emissions from road transport rose by 29% between 1990 and 2007, notably due to increases both in the number of vehicles on the roads as well as in distances driven annually.