Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu


New report says EU car CO2 emissions target for 2020 is not ambitious enough

20 May 2010

The European Union target of reducing car CO2 emissions to 95 grams per kilometre by 2020 is not sufficiently ambitious, according to a new report.

A report commissioned by Greenpeace International, and written by researchers at the Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS) at Cardiff University, argues that a lower target of 80 grams per kilometre (g/km) can readily be achieved. A combination of new technology, weight reduction, performance reduction and downsizing could achieve this level.

The report, published today, is launched at a time when EU ministers discuss the regulatory framework, as part of the European strategy on clean and energy efficient vehicles.

The current target is to limit CO2 emissions from new cars to 95 g/km by 2020. A review of this legislation is scheduled no later than the end of 2012, to agree how carmakers should reach the target. In this report, the authors have set out to demonstrate how the lower target of 80g/km is feasible.

Transport is considered to be the sector with the fastest growing greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. Under EU legislation adopted in 2009, the average passenger car sold in 2015 should comply with a CO2 target of 130 grams per kilometre (g/km).

One of the report authors, Dr Peter Wells said: "If the automotive industry starts to act now, it has ten years and considerable strategic flexibility to achieve a managed transition towards low-CO2 mobility. All the evidence on climate change suggests our response must be stronger and faster than previously thought. This report shows that the automotive industry can, and should, do more."

Greenpeace EU transport policy advisor Franziska Achterberg said: "EU industry ministers are right to see clean vehicle technology as a way of maintaining the competitiveness of the European car sector. They should recognise that the single most important EU measure to achieve this is ambitious legislation. Stronger fuel efficiency standards will help the sector reduce its carbon footprint while maintaining a level playing field."

- Ends -


Peter Wells – Report author, BRASS
(mobile) 07809 696062,

Franziska Achterbergtransport policy adviser, Greenpeace International

+32 498 362403 (mobile)

Mark Breddycommunications manager, Greenpeace International

+32 496 156229 (mobile)

Notes to editors:

1. The Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS) is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. The Centre is a joint venture between Cardiff University’s Schools of Business, City & Regional Planning and Law. It brings together the three Schools’ existing research expertise on issues of sustainability, business ethics, company law, corporate reporting and business communication. BRASS exists to understand and promote the vital issues of sustainability, accountability and social responsibility, through research into key business relationships. Visit the Centre Website at:

2. Greenpeace uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems and to drive solutions for a green and peaceful future. Greenpeace is independently funded and does not accept donations from governments, the EU, corporations or political parties. Visit the website at:

3. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC’s planned total expenditure in 2009/10 is £204 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. More at

4. Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.