EU On Course For 2015 Pollution Revolution
A bleak, dystopian future clouded in smog is looking less likely by the day, according to data provided by the European Environment Agency (EEA).
Well, in our part of the world, at least. The EEA has released a report claiming that people across Europe purchased more fuel-efficient cars last year, and that car manufacturers themselves are on course to meet emission targets for 2015, previously set by the European Union (EU).
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The EU wants the average car sold to emit no more than a maximum of 130g CO2/km by 2015 and 95g CO2/km by 2020, thus saving the planet for future generations until the Earth majestically crashes into the sun.
The EEA's statistics, released on 20 June, show that there were 12.8 million new vehicles registered in the EU over the course of 2011, and that they averaged emissions of 135.7 grams CO2 per kilometre.
Now that may still sound like a lot of smog, but it's actually a significant improvement from the previous year. 2011's emissions were 4.6g CO2/km less than in 2010, which represents an overall drop of 3.3 per cent.
So, manufacturers have finally twigged, have they? They have in part - they're currently meeting their obligation to reduce emissions, but a lot of credit also has to go to consumer behaviour. People who bought new cars last year were attracted to the almighty benefits possessed by diesel-powered vehicles. 55.2 per cent, in fact; a leap from 51.3 per cent in 2010.
It's also worth noting that there was a small spark in electric car sales. 8,700 electric-only models were registered over 2011, and though that's admittedly a somewhat paltry figure, it's still a ten-fold sales increase from 2010.
New technology is playing its part. The EEA claims that average CO2 emissions between new petrol and diesel cars has slimmed to just 3.2g CO2/km in 2011, with manufacturers introducing new energy-efficient engines into many of their new models in a bid to comply with EU targets.
Ford, for instance, has recently announced plans to release 15 best-in-class fuel-efficient cars over the course of 2012, with many other manufacturers gradually following suit.
A European Union
"We can see new cars becoming more efficient year-on-year - a good example of regulation helping industry to make real improvements. It is also encouraging to see sales of electric cars starting to climb," says Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the EEA.
Meeting those targets and regulations is becoming increasingly more important. Across the EU emissions from road transport between 1990 and 2012 increased steadily to 23 per cent, accounting for just under a fifth of the EU's total emissions output.
But the EEA's data shows that manufacturers are on the right track. The overall health of the industry also appears to be improving - the amount of new cars being registered increased considerably during 2011, back to levels seen in 2007 before the economic downturn, when a peak of 15.5million vehicles were registered.
Will EU Make it in Time?
But while new car registrations have continued to rise, engine capacity has fallen. Measured in cm3, engine capacity has dropped by five per cent when compared against 2007's figures.
EU member states must submit information for each new registered passenger car on their territory to the European Commission, so says Article 8 of Regulation 443/2009.
We're looking forward to seeing if manufacturers can indeed meet their 2015 target. We'll be the first to congratulate them if they do.
Written by John Meadowcroft