EU car CO2 deal "will prove expensive"

Commission study shows cutting transport emissions costs more than in most other sectors

The EU's voluntary agreement with car makers to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is likely to cost up to three times more per tonne of emissions saved than the average expense across the economy, a new study published by the European Commission reveals.

Prepared by British consultants AEA Technology, the report assesses the potential for reducing transport greenhouse gas emissions through changes to vehicles and estimates the cost of different abatement options. It is one of a series under the Commission-led European Climate Change Programme (ENDS Daily 7 November 2000).

The passenger car sector could cut up to 73m tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e) over business-as-usual scenarios by 2010, the report concludes. The figure is close to the emission cut anticipated under the 1998 voluntary agreement with European, Japanese and Korean car manufacturers (ENDS Daily 6 October 2000), though no direct comparison can be made because of different measurement approaches.

According to the study, the average cost of cutting all 73m tonnes will be euros 92 per tonne. This is far higher than the euros 33 per tonne over the whole economy predicted by the Commission last year (ENDS Daily 8 March 2000).

"This study backs up what we have always argued - that cutting carbon dioxide emissions is very expensive in the transport sector," a climate expert from European car industry body Acea told ENDS Daily today. The study was the first independent and public indication of how much the voluntary agreement would cost the industry and, consequently, consumers, he said. Reluctance of car firms to share data had prevented the industry coming up with its own estimates, he said.

Campaign group Transport and Environment said the study showed how difficult it would be to reduce transport emissions through technical measures alone and that it highlighted the need for strategies to reduce transport demand. It pointed out that even if all the reduction potential identified by the study was achieved, overall car transport emissions were still predicted to rise more than 20% by 2010 compared to 1990 levels.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111, see also the study, located on the Commission's climate change pages; Acea, tel: +32 2 732 5550;

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