EU: Light-duty: GHG

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1 Overview

  • Standard type: CO2 emission limits
  • Regulating body: European Union (European Commission, Parliament, Council, and Member States)
  • Current standard: 130 gCO2/km by 2015 Regulation (EC) 443/2009
  • Future standards: 95 gCO2/km for new cars, 147 gCO2/km for LCVs by 2020; 68-78 gCO2/km by 2025 (proposed), COM(2012) 394
  • Applicability: New passenger vehicles and light commercial vehicles

2 History

With an output of over 17 million vehicles per year, the 28-member European Union (EU) is the world’s second largest producer of automobiles. Every fourth vehicle sold globally is produced in or imported into Europe, and many countries around the world follow the EU’s emission standards roadmap. As a result, the European market and EU emission regulations influence the business decisions of major vehicle manufacturers around the world.[1]

Passenger vehicles generate 12 percent of all CO2 emissions in the EU, and emissions from transport increased by 26 percent between 1990 and 2010. Recognizing the large and growing impact of these vehicles on climate change, the EU in the mid-1990s began programs to reduce fleet average CO2 emissions. Initially, voluntary targets were established for manufacturers. The EU ultimately shifted from voluntary to mandatory standards in 2009, implementing legislation to cap vehicle CO2 emissions. The regulations only cover CO2 emissions; other greenhouse gases are not regulated. Brief overviews of the voluntary and mandatory programs are as follows:

Voluntary targets

  • 1995 - the European Commission adopted a strategy for reducing CO2 emissions from passenger vehicles which relied on voluntary commitments from the auto industry, improvements in consumer information, and the promotion of fuel efficient cars through fiscal measures.[2]
  • 1998 - the European Commission signed voluntary CO2 tailpipe emission reduction agreements with the European Car Manufacturers Association (ACEA), Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA), and Korean Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA). These voluntary agreements committed each manufacturer to a target of 140 gCO2 per kilometer, and applied to new vehicle fleets sold on the European market with compliance deadlines of 2008 (ACEA) and 2009 (KAMA/JAMA).[3] While significant CO2 emission reductions were achieved in the initial years, since 2004 the manufacturers could no longer meet their voluntary targets. The agreements were designed to reduce CO2 emissions by 25 percent from 1995, but only two manufacturers met the targets.[4]

Mandatory targets

  • Passenger Vehicles
    • In 2009, Regulation 443/2009/EC established a mandatory fleet-average CO2 emission target of 130 g/km to be reached by 2015. The regulation also defines a long-term target of 95 gCO2/km to be reached by 2020.
    • In 2013, the passenger car standards were set at 95 g/km of CO2, phasing in for 95 percent of vehicles in 2020 with 100 percent compliance in 2021.
  • Light Commercial Vehicles
    • In 2009, COM(2009) 593 established a fleet-average CO2 emission target of 175 gCO2/km fully phased-in from 2016 and a long-term target of 135 gCO2/km from 2020.
    • In 2012, these targets were updated in COM(2012) 393. The end of the phase-in of the short-term target was delayed by one year (now 2017 instead of 2016). The long-term target was changed from 135 gCO2/km to 147 gCO2/km.
    • In 2013, the light-commercial vehicle standards were set at 147 g/km of CO2 for 2020.
  • Two and Three-wheeled Vehicles - In 2010, L-type vehicle (two- and three-wheelers) manufacturers are required to calculate and report CO2 emissions, though no specified targets have been set. [5]
130627 ICCT EUcarsCO2 fig1 lg.png
130627 ICCT EUcarsCO2 fig2 lg.png

3 Technical Standards

3.1 1998-2008: Voluntary Agreements

In 1998-99, to control GHG emissions from the transportation sector, the European Commission signed voluntary agreements with the automotive industry to reduce the emissions of CO2. The agreements remained in effect until mandatory standards were adopted in 2008. The agreements defined fleet-average CO2 emission targets from new cars sold in the European Union to be reached collectively by the members of each association. Carbon dioxide was the only gas covered by the agreements; other climate change emissions were not controlled. Three agreements were signed in 1998-99, with companies representing about 90% of the total EU vehicle sales:

  • ACEA—European Automobile Manufacturers Association (Association des Constructeurs Européens d’Automobiles): BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Fiat, Ford, GM, Porsche, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Renault, VW Group.
  • JAMA—Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association: Daihatsu, Honda, Isuzu, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota.
  • KAMA—Korean Automobile Manufacturers Association: Daewoo, Hyundai, Kia, Ssangyong.

Official Agreement

The ACEA Agreement, signed in March 1998, included the following major provisions:

  • CO2 emission target of 140 g/km to be reached by 2008 (this target represented a 25% reduction from the 1995 level of 186 g/km)
  • Possibility to extend the agreement to 120 g CO2/km by 2012
  • Intermediate target range of 165-170 g CO2/km by 2003
  • Individual ACEA members to introduce models of 120 g CO2/km or less by 2000

The limits applied to the collective ACEA members’ fleet of new passenger cars (Category M1) produced or imported into the European Union. CO2 emissions were measured over the NEDC test.

Japanese and Korean manufacturers (JAMA and KAMA) signed similar commitments to that of ACEA, with the following differences:

  • JAMA and KAMA target of 140 g CO2/km was delayed by one year, to 2009
  • JAMA had a wider 2003 intermediate target range of 165-175 g CO2/km
  • KAMA intermediate target of 165-170 g CO2/km was delayed by one year, to 2004

The emission targets were to be met through technological advancements leading to increased fuel economy. The Commission estimated that the compliant fleet of passenger cars in 2008/09 would consume on average about 5.8 l gasoline/100 km or 5.25 l diesel/100 km. The CO2 agreements were an important factor driving the increased dieselization of the passenger car market in the EU.


CO2 emissions were monitored jointly by the European Commission and by ACEA. Annual progress reports were published by the Commission. ACEA progress through 2003 is illustrated below.


CO2 Reduction from Light-Duty Vehicles Under ACEA Agreement

Details on average CO2 emissions from new light-duty vehicles are shown in the table below.

Average CO2 Emissions and Interim Targets (2003), g/km
 CO2 in 2003Reduction sinceInterim target
ACEA16317115411.9%1.2%165-170 (2003)
JAMA17217017712.2%1.1%165-175 (2003)
KAMA1791712019.1%2.2%165-170 (2004)

Average CO2 Emissions (2000-2009), g/km
Note: CO2 figures for ACEA, JAMA and KAMA have been adjusted for the change in the test procedure (a 0.7% downward adjustment from the NEDC measurement), while the EU-27 figures are non-adjusted measurements (ECE+EUDC cycle according to Directive 93/116/EC).

In spite of the significant CO2 emission reductions achieved in the initial years and a 5% drop recorded in 2009, none of the three associations was able to reach the 140 g/km target by 2008/09. In 2009, the voluntary agreements were replaced by mandatory CO2 emission regulations.

3.2 2009: 130/95 g/km PV Standard

In December 2009, the European Parliament adopted mandatory emission performance standards for new passenger cars, which set a fleet-average CO2 emission target of 130 gCO2 per kilometer for 2015. The 130 g/km target must be reached by each vehicle manufacturer by 2015 using vehicle technology. A further 10 g/km emission reduction is to be accomplished by additional measures, such as the use of biofuels. The target will be phased-in over a period of 4 years, beginning in 2012.[6] The regulation is applicable to passenger cars, vehicle category M1. CO2 emissions are measured over the NEDC test cycle.

The EU is on track to meet the 2015 CO2/GHG standards; as of 2012 the car industry as a whole was only 2% away from meeting its 130 g/km reduction targets.[7]

The specific emission target for each manufacturer in a calendar year is based on the vehicle mass. It is calculated as the average of the Specific Emissions of CO2 (g/km) of each new passenger car registered in that calendar year, where:

Specific Emissions of CO2 = 130 + 0.0457 × (M - M0)

In the above formula, M is the mass of the vehicle (kg), and M0 is 1372 kg for calendar years 2012-2015. From 2016, the value of M0 will be adjusted annually to reflect the average mass of passenger cars in the previous three calendar years. Thus, the target of 130 g/km is directly applicable to vehicles of an average mass, while lighter cars have lower CO2 targets and heavier vehicles have higher CO2 targets. The regulation is phased-in over the period from 2012 to 2015.

Percentage of each manufacturer’s new passenger vehicle fleet that is required to meet the 130 g/km target each year
Year % of vehicle fleet required to meet 130 g/km target
2015 and on
Source: European Commission, 2012

Additional Incentives - In the initial period, certain types of vehicles receive additional incentives:

  • Vehicles of CO2 emissions below 50 g/km receive super-credits. Each such vehicle is counted as 3.5 cars in 2012 and 2013, 2.5 cars in 2014, 1.5 cars in 2015, and 1 car from 2016.
  • CO2 emissions of vehicles capable of running on a mixture of gasoline with 85% ethanol (E85) are reduced by 5% until the end of 2015. This reduction applies only where at least 30% of the filling stations in a Member State provide E85.

Flexibilities - Certain flexibilities are available for manufacturers, as follows:

  • Pooling — Several manufacturers may form a pool to jointly meet their CO2 emission targets.
  • Low volume manufacturers — Manufacturers with fewer than 10,000 new cars registered per annum may apply to the European Commission for a derogation from the specific emission targets. Several conditions apply.
  • Eco-innovation — Manufacturers may apply for credits for innovative CO2 reducing technologies which are not accounted for in the current test cycle—for example, energy efficient lights. The total contribution of eco-innovation credits is limited to 7 gCO2/km in each manufacturers average specific target.

Penalties - Manufacturers who miss their average CO2 targets are subject to penalties:

  • From 2012 to 2018, the penalties are €5 per vehicle for the first g/km of CO2; €15 for the second gram; €25 for the third gram; €95 from the fourth gram onwards.
  • From 2019, manufacturers will pay €95 for each g/km exceeding the target.

3.3 2011: 175/147 g/km LCV Standard

In May 2011, the European Parliament adopted Regulation (EU) 510/2011, regulating CO2 emissions from light commercial vehicles (LCV) in Europe for the first time. Prior to 2011, only passenger vehicle CO2 emissions were regulated.[8] The LCV CO2 emission targets were set at 175 g/km, and will be phased in from 2014 to 2016.[9] The proposed long-term CO2 emission target for LCV was set at 135 g/km in 2020.

The EU adopted a version of the legislation includes a less-stringent long-term target (147 g/km instead of 135 g/km for the new LCV fleet in 2020), compared to the original proposal. The end of the phase-in of the short-term target was delayed by one year (now 2017 instead of 2016).

The regulation is applicable to vehicles category N1 with a reference mass not exceeding 2610 kg. The structure of the legislation is similar to the passenger cars regulation. The annual specific emission targets for each manufacturer are calculated by averaging the indicative specific emissions obtained from the following formula:

Specific Emissions of CO2 = 175 + 0.093 × (M - M0)

where M is the mass of the vehicle (kg) and M0 is 1706 kg for calendar years 2014-2017. From 2018, the value of M0 will be adjusted annually to reflect the average mass of new light commercial vehicles in the previous three calendar years.

Percentage of each manufacturer’s new light commercial vehicle fleet that is required to meet the 175 g/km target each year
Year % of LCV fleet required to meet 175 g/km target
Source: European Commission, 2011

Vehicles with extremely low emissions (below 50 g/km )are given additional incentives in the initial period—one low emitting vehicle will be counted as 3.5 vehicles in 2014 and 2015, 2.5 vehicles in 2016, 1.5 vehicles in 2017, and then 1 vehicle from 2018 onwards. The proposal includes a number of other provisions similar to those legislated for passenger cars.

The penalties for manufacturers who fail to meet their average targets are:

  • Until 2018 the penalty is €5 per vehicle for the first g/km of exceedance, €15 for the second g/km, €25 for the third g/km, and €120 for each subsequent g/km.
  • From 2019, the penalty is €120 for each g/km exceeding the target.

3.4 2020: 95 g/km PV standard, 147 g/km LCV standard

At the end of 2013, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union reached an agreement regarding two regulatory proposals that will implement mandatory 2020 CO2 emission targets for new passenger cars and light-commercial vehicles in the European Union. The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union formally adopted the regulation for LCVs in February 2014 and for passenger cars in March 2014.

A target value of 95 g/km of CO2 for 2020 for the new car fleet was set. However, there is a one-year phase-in period, requiring 95 percent of new car sales to comply with the target in 2020 and 100 percent from the end of 2020 onwards. Effectively, the 95 g/km target therefore applies from 2021 on. In terms of fuel consumption, the 2020 target equates to approximately 4.1 l/100 km of petrol or 3.6 l/100 km of diesel. Vehicle weight is retained as the underlying utility parameter, i.e., the heavier a manufacturer’s car fleet, the higher the CO2 emission value allowed by the regulation. The factor used is 0.0333, meaning that for every 100 kg additional vehicle weight, the emission of 3.33 g/km more of CO2 is allowed. For the post-2020 time period, other parameters, such as vehicle footprint, will be considered.

A target value of 147 g/km of CO2 for 2020 for LCVs was set. Vehicle weight is retained as the underlying parameter, with a slope factor of 0.0960, meaning that for every 100 kg additional vehicle weight the emission of 9.60 g/km more of CO2 is allowed.

3.5 2025: 68-78 g/km PV standard

For the 2025 target, the European Parliament has proposed an indicative range of 68–78 g/km.

3.6 Testing Procedures

The European Union measures CO2/GHG emission compliance using data provided by vehicle manufacturers. Each manufacturer is required to test and report CO2 emission levels for every new model on the market using the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). Individual EU member states collect the data for all vehicles registered in their territory and report the information to the European Commission. All CO2 emission data is accompanied by a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and physical details, but it is up to individual member states to “ensure the maintenance, collection, control, verification and transmission of the aggregated monitoring data and the detailed monitoring data” (European Commission, 2010). [10]

For the 2020 standards, the new Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) should be applied “at the earliest opportunity.” In this context, the 2020 CO2 targets will be adjusted to the WLTP, making use of the results of a NEDC-WLTP correlation study, to ensure comparable stringency for manufacturers and classes of vehicles.

3.7 Classification System

The EU currently uses a weight-based classification system to set its emission targets. The European Parliament has suggested implementing a vehicle footprint system as an alternative compliance option from 2020 on “in order to ensure a smooth transition to a future shift from mass to footprint.”[11]

4 Links

4.1 Regulatory Documents

All CO2 emission regulation can be found on the EU climate action webpage.

4.2 Notes

ICCT Policy Update: EU CO2 standards for passenger cars and light-commercial vehicles, January 2014


  1. The International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA)
  2. Regulation (EC) No 443/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the Community's integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles
  3. Ibid.
  4. 27 February 2009 Press Release
  5. Proposal for Regulation (EU) No .../2010 on the approval and market surveillance of two- or three-wheel vehicles and quadricycles
  6. EU Climate Action page on Reducing CO2 emissions from passenger cars
  7. How clean are Europe's cars (2013 edition)
  8. EU Climate Action page on reducing CO2 emissions from vans
  9. Peter Mock, European CO2 emission performance standards for light commercial vehicles.
  10. Commission Regulation (EU) No 1014/2010
  11. EU vote on cars CO2: 95 g/km in 2020, 68-78 g/km in 2025