After three years of rising CO2 emissions from new cars in Europe, they fell sharply in 2020, helped by the trend of electric vehicles, a report published Tuesday showed. Last year, average emissions from a new car registered in the European Union, the UK, Iceland and Norway fell by 12 percent to 107.8 grams of CO2 per driven kilometre from the 11.5 million cars registered in the 30 countries, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA).
The drop of 14.5 grams from 2019 “represented the first decrease observed since 2016," the EEA said. It also “coincides with the phase in of stricter CO2 emissions standards for cars as of January 1, 2020," the European Commission said in a statement.
Emissions had risen successively in 2017, 2018 and 2019, driven by the popularity of fuel-efficient but also larger SUVs, interrupting years of steady decline and calling set targets into question.
The 2020 level also set a new record performance, beating the 2016 average of 118.1 grams per kilometre.
However, it still lags behind the target set by the EU of 95 grams by 2020. The next milestone target is 81 grams by 2025 and 60 grams by 2030.
The European Commission is due to present new measures on July 14 to meet the ambitious climate targets of the 27 member states, with expanded car emission standards, particularly for petrol cars.
For comparison, a new car in the EU emitted on average 172 grams per kilometre in 2000 and 140 grams in 2010, according to the EEA.
It said the drop in 2020 is in particular due to the surge in demand for electric cars, adding the caveat that a larger share of their emissions are concentrated to their manufacturing, particularly in the making of batteries, than when they are rolling on the roads.
In 2020, the share of electric vehicles among new registrations tripled in one year, jumping to 11 percent from 3.5 in 2019, according to the EEA.
Over one million electric cars were sold in a year for the first time in the region.
Among the 30 countries, Norway, the world leader for electric cars, thus took the crown for lowest emissions with 38.2 grams per kilometre while Bulgaria trails the pack at 133 grams.
Germany, Europe’s largest car market, is 18th with 113.6 grams on average.
The EEA also noted that the data is still provisional and needs to be confirmed.