Transport is Europe’s largest climate problem. Road transport is the largest source of carbon emissions in the European Union, and its emissions are forecast to grow further. That is why this is an enormous challenge.
Measures need to be put in place to decarbonise road transport as soon as technologically, economically and politically feasible; and sufficient emissions reductions through deployment of zero-and low emission vehicles need to happen in the next decade.
This is the time to act.
Today’s legislation on CO2 standards for cars and vans will define what technology is put on the market from 2025 onward and, also, well beyond 2030.
This is all the reason why the European Parliament has pushed strongly for ambitious CO2 emission reduction targets for cars and vans.
Today, we have set a 37.5% target for 2030.
Speeding and scaling up the development and sales of zero-and low emission vehicles are crucial for any successful long-term strategy for decarbonising Europe, and it is key in ensuring European competitiveness, especially in comparison to China.
With supply chains stretching across the whole of the EU economy, a managed transition to e-mobility offers a wide range of opportunities for most countries.
Many manufacturers, businesses, investors and countries are preparing for such a change already. This allows them to capture emerging growth and jobs opportunities all across the different sectors.
Endorsing this technological transition, and decarbonisation itself, would create more jobs, more economic growth and a cleaner, safer world.
As the Parliament’s rapporteur on this important piece of legislation, I have always wanted the European Union to deliver real results, wanted European consumers to enjoy the benefits of clean mobility, and wanted the European auto industry to remain competitive and maintain its share in this rapidly changing global market.
Pushing back change will not make our industries more competitive. It will only keep some industries in a comfortable zone for some years, until we realise that other continents are running ahead of us.
Then it might be too late to catch up and we would end up loosing out on job and industrial opportunities.
The transition to clean mobility requires targeted policy intervention driven by agreed standards and economic instruments until the cost of new technologies reaches parity with existing technologies.
This strong, targeted policy intervention is what the Parliament’s position set as its final objective.
Parliament wanted targeted policies that help modernise the technologies used, making vehicles more efficient, with varying degrees of electrification, while at the same time ensure that workers who currently produce legacy technologies are retrained for quality jobs in producing the technologies of the future.
Let’s be honest, this transition can help positively our economy. This is a transition that has the potential of reducing the EU’s dependence on imported oil and petroleum products, and shift demand towards domestically produced energy and electricity.
Most definitely this is directly linked to the location where zero-and low emission vehicles will be manufactured in the future.
More certainty to investors will support the development of innovative European value chains including batteries manufacturing promoting Europe’s industrial growth.
I definitely want these clean vehicles and green automotive battery cells to be manufactured within Europe. More so, since it is estimated that the global market for batteries can reach €250 billion per year by 2025.
We have the potential to tap into this market and not only catch up with global competitors, but actually become leaders.
In all, I believe that this is not the time to push back change, because pushing back will not make our industries more competitive.
Experience with previous targets for CO2 reduction showed that albeit the initial resistance, the European automotive industry, being more fuel efficient, proved to be more competitive during times of crisis such as when we were hit with hikes in oil prices.
When setbacks struck, European manufacturers managed to increase their market share whilst automotive companies in other continents like the US struggled for years.
Not too long ago, the United States government had to bailout the automotive industry, with the federal government taking over GM and Chrysler in March 2009 and requiring that Chrysler merge with Italy’s FIAT.
The Obama administration then used this take-over to set new auto efficiency standards, and forced American automakers to be more competitive against Japanese and German firms. This same rule applies today.
Driving research, development and innovation in CO2 saving technologies will definitely help our industries and the European car manufacturers.
It will help the EU retain its competitive advantage, ensure consumer benefits, environmental, climate integrity and our citizens health.
In Katowice, the European Union spoke of leadership in climate action. This ambition needs to translate into concrete commitment, and this legislation is a key component to that ambition.
The deal reached between the European Parliament and European Council took place despite fierce opposition.
But the real win is the introduction of a mechanism to address the difference that currently exists between emissions in the laboratory and on the road.