The Malta Independent 20 January 2019, Sunday

EU agreement to reduce CO2 vehicle emissions by 2030 will only apply to new vehicles

Kevin Schembri Orland Friday, 11 January 2019, 12:02 Last update: about 8 days ago

PL MEP Miriam Dalli stressed that the recent agreement reached on reducing CO2 emissions for passenger vehicles and vans in the coming years will only apply for those which will be manufactured in the future, and will not require retrofitting of old and already existing vehicles or anything of the sort.

The European Parliament last October approved a report piloted by Labour MEP Miriam Dalli on emission targets, aimed at creating a better environment.

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Speaking during a public discussion held at Europa House in Valletta, Dalli highlighted how agreement was reached this past December between the European Council, Commission and Parliament during negotiations, for new cars and vans to have 37.5% less CO2 emissions in 2030 than they would have in 2021. An intermediary step of a 15% CO2 cut for both new cars and vans when compared to 2021 is to be reached by 2025, she said. The final votes are expected to be taken in the coming months. The member states will take a vote on 16 January, and the EU Parliament will follow later on, Dalli said, while adding that these are effectively a formality however.

New emission targets for the European Union will not only provide for a better environment, but will also serve to create more jobs, better health and bring in more investment, PL MEP Miriam said.

Dalli said that climate change is the main reason for this legislation, but said that the main aim is to reach a proper balance.  She highlighted keeping in mind air quality, public health and how consumers would benefit, as well as the industry, jobs, technical innovation and competitiveness.

She highlighted that there were many stakeholders, and how many car manufacturers at first only wanted a 20% emission reduction by 2030 and no interim reduction. She stressed that this legislation was never solely about electric vehicles, but also zero and low-emission vehicles.

She highlighted that this is not the sole legislation in the EU which would reduce emissions. She mentioned that another piece of legislation regarding heavy duty vehicles is also being negotiated between the EU Parliament, Commission and Council.

She highlighted how the EU Parliament wants to ensure that citizens breathe cleaner air.

She said that there is an obligation on the Commission to push for sustainable battery production in the EU included in the legislation, and highlighted that there is also a need for infrastructure, and said that other legislation in that regard to complement this is being worked on.

She also said that the EU Parliament fought for the introduction of technological details that would ensure that the legislation on paper would deliver on the road, rather than having them on paper which could be exploited due to loopholes, and so they included fuel consumption monitoring, she said.

She said that if people push manufacturers to create more low and zero emission and electric vehicles, then more manufacturers will produce them, reducing prices and increasing the options for people. If we have more models, more choice, more people will purchase these cars. She admitted that there were price limitations, saying there is a stark difference in prices but said that this is a question of supply and demand.  “The more there is a policy change the more the price of these cars will become cheaper.”

“If you have a policy push, it can help the market move forward and result in more zero and low emission vehicles on our roads.”

Asked how this will affect the local scenario and the potential need for more charging points, Dalli said that a change will not happen overnight, highlighting that there is an 11-year transition, giving leeway for car manufacturers to produce less emission vehicles, and gives member states leeway time on how they need to address these changes.

With regards to emissions reductions, she also stressed the need for the shipping industry to do more, and said that the EU Parliament Environment Committee is working on pushing for such legislation. She also highlighted the need for the EU, and Malta, to attract more green jobs.

Claire Bonello, Chairperson of the Scientific Advisory Council for the Environment and ENGO Council highlighted that the scientific community has long been investigating the effects and impacts of climate change in the EU.

She quoted recent studies which show that even a 1.5 degree Celcius increase in the average Maltese weather would result in heat deaths. She said that climate change will have an impact on Malta in other ways as well, including coastal flooding, water scarcity, extreme weather events, invasive species, problems for fisheries and aquaculture, and have negative impacts on marine biodiversity.

Caroline Gouder from the Department of Respiratory Medicine at Mater Dei Hospital highlighted the increase in asthma and respiratory tract problems due to emissions, but said that the automobile industry is not solely to blame.

During the questions and answer portion of the event, some expressed concern that the EU did not go far enough in terms of regulating second hand cars, however Dalli stressed that retrofitting would be a different issue to what is being proposed.

Questions were asked about skills gaps in terms of green jobs, infrastructure issues and more. Simone Borg from the Institute of Climate Change within the University of Malta responded, and said that it is important that this transition in terms of vehicles is supported. The EU has different research programmes which are often used to fill in these gaps with the academia, she said. “It would be up to Malta to identify its needs to fill in the gaps which exist with respect to issues in order to implement such legislation.”

Asked about issues regarding charging points, a Transport Ministry representative in the audience said that Malta will have 600 more charging points by the end of 2020.

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