THE GREENS/EFA IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
PRESS RELEASE – Brussels, 31 January 2007
Car emissions and fuels –
Fuels directive diverts attention from the cars that guzzle the gas
New campaign outlines threats to food security and the environment from a ‘plant fuel’ expansion
The European Commission today presented its proposal for a directive on fuel quality however divisions within the Commission continue to delay the more important proposal on CO2 emissions legislation for cars. Commenting on the Commission’s approach to car emissions, Green energy spokesman Claude Turmes said:
“Focusing on fuel quality alone to address emissions from road transport is like trying to quench a forest fire with a water pistol. By placing a disproportionate emphasis on fuel quality, the Commission is diverting attention from the real problem – the cars that use the fuel – and creating the illusion that fuel from plants is the panacea for our climate problems. We should be under no illusion: running an SUV – like a VW Touareg – on ethanol would be an environmental nightmare (1).
“Car manufacturers are trying to wriggle out of a target for CO2 emissions that they agreed to long ago and pass the buck on to others, like the fuel industry. The 120g/km CO2 emissions target is not some figure that has been plucked out of the air by Environment Commissioner Dimas, it has been an EU target since 1996 (2) and was agreed to by the industry. It is disingenuous to suggest that meeting this target would destroy German car manufacturers, which produce bigger cars, as the target would be spread across the industry.”
Satu Hassi, vice-president of the EP ENVI committee, added:
“Clearly fuel quality is one element of a coherent strategy to address transport emissions. We welcome the proposal to monitor the overall CO2 component of fuel. While some biofuels have the potential to reduce fuel emissions, simply replacing oil with ethanol without controlling its source would have disastrous consequences for the environment and global food security.
“We disagree however with the proposal of Commission to lower the fuel quality standards for gasoline blends with ethanol when it comes to vapour pressure. This gift to the European ethanol industry was not necessary and is counterproductive to the fulfilment of the EU’s air pollution standards, notably for ozone.
“The continued failure to set an effective binding target for car manufacturers of 120g/km CO2 emissions by 2012 is a sad reflection of the priorities of this Commission. This week a UN report will suggest that the damages of climate change have been underestimated (3); it is incredible that, in the same week, the Commission is set to capitulate to the car industry on one of the key concrete proposals of an EU climate strategy.”
(1) Scientific evidence suggests the energy-intensive process of producing ethanol (one of the main, so-called ‘bio’-fuels) will not necessarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and in most cases not cost-effectively. The use of limited grains stocks to produce ethanol is also leading to massive increases in the price of grains and, as a result, other foods, leading to potential food shortages in the developing world. In addition, cultivation of plant fuels leads to soil degradation and deforestation, which also has an important negative climate impact.
(2) The 120g/km target was agreed by the Commission and Council in 1996 and was originally supposed to have been achieved by 2005! The car industry is now set to miss a much less ambitious voluntary target of 140g/km by 2008.
(3) The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will publish a report this Friday (the first in a series on climate change), which is set to make more accurate predictions for temperature rises as a result of climate change and will claim that some of the negative consequences of climate change have been underestimated.