Pushing for tougher fuel efficiency legislation is a key priority of the ECF’s Transport Programme. In 2013, the ECF, its partners, and grantees achieved an important milestone by showing that the establishment of a stringent emissions standard for cars of 95g CO2/km by 2020 would be good for consumers, the economy, and the environment at the same time.

Together with the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), we commissioned the most detailed analysis ever done on technological options and costs. The analysis showed that the additional costs for cars with higher fuel efficiency are paid back by fuel savings within a few years. This was crucial for challenging the car industry’s inflated estimates and for winning support from consumer groups and automotive associations for a stringent standard, which has now been proposed by the European Commission.

Employment and Economic Benefits

In addition, recent analyses done for the ECF show that strict emissions standards have positive effects on jobs and GDP. We convened a working group to look at the macro-economic impact of reducing CO2 emissions from cars and vans, first through fuel efficiency and light-weighting, and later through a shift to advanced technologies such as hybridisation, electrification, and hydrogen. The results are encouraging, suggesting that our 2025 policy goal of a 70g CO2/km target will result in around 700,000 new jobs in Europe.

The employment gains would come from manufacturing more technically complex vehicles, and also from the shift in spending away from the fossil fuel value chain towards other areas of the economy with higher labour intensity. The reduction in fossil fuel imports would also improve the EU’s trade balance, boost GDP, and curb emissions of health-damaging particulates. This will provide a powerful advocacy message for our allies in the future.

Based on these arguments and in cooperation with a wide range of different stakeholders – ranging from NGOs to progressive industries – the ECF and its partners have made excellent progress in advocating for CO2 standards for cars. While we are still waiting for a final decision on the 95g CO2/km standard for 2020, discussion of a 2025 target of 70g CO2/km is already under way. Most of these cuts could be achievable with a mix of optimised internal combustion engines, hybridised engines, and lightweight materials, with the start of electrification making it easier to reach the standard.

Beyond 70g, however, a shift to new technologies, new fuels, and innovative transport systems will be needed – a debate just getting under way now. We will maintaining a constructive dialogue with consumers, leasing companies, environmental groups, and progressive industry in the coming years to ensure that progressive emission standards are put into place for 2020 and beyond.