MEPs insist on tighter HGV emission limit

Environment committee votes for NOx limit by 2006, car labelling proposal unopposed

The European Parliament's environment committee voted today for tougher limits on emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) than agreed by EU governments.

Last year, the European Commission proposed new limits for emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, NOx, particles and smoke from HGV engines to be achieved by 2000 (ENDS Daily 18 June 1998). After pressure from the Parliament, governments voted to set additional, tighter limits for 2005, and a further limit of 2 grams per kilometre (g/km) on NOx from 2008. The Parliament had wanted the 2g/km limit to be met by 2005 (ENDS Daily 22 December 1998).

In today's vote, the committee accepted the limits proposed for the pollutants, but backed a push by rapporteur Bernd Lange for the 2g/km NOx limit to be met by 2006 rather than 2008.

The amendment was supported by several European People's Party MEPs on the understanding that Mr Lange would reach swift agreement with the Council of Ministers over the issue and thus avoid the protracted "conciliation" negotiations that delayed finalisation of previous Auto/Oil directives for nearly a year (ENDS Daily 30 June 1998). This suggests that the Parliament will back down on the demand if EU governments refuse to compromise in initial talks.

German member Karl-Heinz Florenz told MEPs: "We are voting for it now, but we don't want conciliation." Mr Florenz later confirmed to ENDS Daily that he would not continue to demand the amendment at next month's parliamentary plenary if it looked like sparking renewed conciliation talks. "We have been waiting too long for this legislation," he said.

In a second vote today, the committee decided against making car dealers responsible for labelling their vehicles with information on fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions. In rejecting UK conservative Robert Goodwill's proposal, MEPs accepted the position agreed by member states last year that individual countries should decide who is responsible for labelling (ENDS Daily 22 December 1998). The directive is part of a package of measures aimed at reducing average emissions of carbon dioxide from new cars to 120g/km by 2005-2010 (ENDS Daily 30 July 1998).

Meanwhile, EU environment commissioner Margot Wallström held her first question and answer session with the committee, and told MEPs that American policy makers "don't understand the thinking behind the precautionary principle." "They put more emphasis on scientific proof" that a policy step should not be taken, she said.

Follow Up:
European Parliament, tel: +32 2 284 2111.

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