The European Commission is not currently planning to propose putting road transport in the EU ETS, and even if it eventually did the measure should not be to replace existing regulations for the sector, EU climate chief Miguel Arias Canete said on Thursday.
The remarks, made during a panel session at the Driving Road Decarbonisation Forwards conference in Brussels, appeared to pour cold water on efforts by some lobbyists pushing for the EU to follow California’s lead and expand the EU ETS by including vehicle emissions.
Arias Canete said EU leaders had agreed last year as part of setting 2030 climate goals that transport should be specifically dealt with as a sector separate from the ETS.
“The October EU Council indicated transport will be in the non-ETS sector. We are working on that assumption at the moment,” he said, noting that current laws allow EU nations to opt to include their vehicle emissions in the market.
“Transport can already be included in the EU ETS but no member state has done it up to now. To do so is complex and requires a lot of thought. The Commission stands ready to assist.”
Some carmakers have said this could bring down the costs the car industry faces in meeting environmental regulation while tackling the ETS’ allowance oversupply.
But green groups fear the move could make it easier for manufacturers to persuade lawmakers to scale back more-effective measures such as CO2 standards and road taxes.
“I don’t think personally that including transport in the EU ETS can replace CO2 standards … It could be a complement but not a substitute,” Arias Canete added.
In an earlier speech at the conference, Arias Canete said the Commission would publish in H1 2016 a proposal outlining 2020-2030 targets for non-ETS sectors including road transport.
This would come alongside a separate communication on how to decarbonise the transport sector, which would be later followed up with specific legislation.
Today, road transport accounts for about 20% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions.
CO2 standards for new cars are helping to bring down the fleet’s emissions, but some manufacturers oppose further standards beyond the latest 2021 limit of 95 grams of CO2/km because they would be too costly.
Arias Canete insisted new standards would be set.
“I want to be clear on this: there will be new standards post-2020. Let me reassure you: these targets will be ambitious but achievable,” he said.
Four EU nations and a cross-party group of MEPs lent further support by calling on the Commission to set “challenging new targets for 2025” in a letter dated June 16, Reuters reported.
By Ben Garside – email@example.com