CO2 from Commercial Vehicles

The European Commission has proposed a Regulation that would establish emission targets for new light commercial vehicles and that is also intended to create incentives for the automotive industry to invest in new, cleaner technologies. This will be the first EU-level legislation regulating CO2 emissions from this vehicle class.


The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s goal of stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations in order to prevent climate change was approved by Council Directive 94/69/EC on 15 December 1993. The UNFCCC states that in order to meet this objective, the overall global temperature must not increase with more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
The European Council of March 2007 and the Climate and Energy package, which was adopted in December 2008, committed the EU to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% below the 1990 levels by 2020. Even though the EU has managed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 9% between 1990 and 2007, CO2 emissions from transport have increased by 29%. The Commission believes therefore that Member States must do more to significantly reduce their emissions from road transport.   This proposal focuses on light commercial vehicles, which currently make up around 12% of the EU’s road transport fleet. Light commercial vehicles are mainly used by business, including small and medium enterprises. The Commission believes that while light commercial vehicles play a vital role in the economy, technical progress has been too slow. Reductions in CO2 emissions have, as a result, not been sufficient to meet the EU’s emissions reduction objectives.

Aim of the Proposal

 The proposal’s objective is to reduce the average CO2 emissions from light commercial vehicles to 175g CO2/km by 2016. The proposal also sets a target of 135g CO2/km by 2020. The proposal applies to new light commercial vehicles of category N1 (vehicles used for the carriage of goods) with an overall weight that does not exceed 2610KG.

Specific Emissions Targets

As of 2014, each manufacturer of light commercial vehicles must ensure annually that the average CO2 emissions of its fleet do not exceed the targets (175g CO2/km by 2016, 135g CO2/km by 2020). The Commission proposes two different formulae, which are set out in Annex I, for calculating these targets. The first formula applies from 2014 to 2017, while the second applies from 2018.

Furthermore, in order to determine specific CO2 emissions, the following percentages of each manufacturer’s new light commercial vehicles registered in the relevant year will be taken into account:

• 75% in 2014
• 80% in 2015
• 100% from 2016
Super credits will also be made available to manufacturers in order to encourage technological development. This means that, in calculating the average specific emissions of CO2, each new light commercial vehicle with specific emissions of CO2 of less than 50 g CO2/km will be counted as:

• 2.5 light commercial vehicles in 2014
• 1.5 light commercial vehicles in 2015
• 1 light commercial vehicle from 2016


A manufacturer may obtain derogations from the specific emissions target if it has fewer than 22,000 new light commercial vehicles registered in EU per calendar year and if:

• the manufacturer is not part of a group of connected manufacturers 
• the manufacturer is part of a group of connected manufacturers that in total is responsible for fewer than 22 000 new light commercial vehicles registered in EU per calendar year


Manufacturers may form a pool in order to meet their targets. Where two or more manufacturers form a pool, the pool will be treated as if it is one manufacturer in order to determine its compliance with the targets. An agreement to form a pool may relate to one or more calendar years. In order to form a pool, manufacturers must send the following information to the European Commission:

• the manufactures which are going to be included in the pool
• the manufacture nominated as a pool manager
• evidence that the pool manager is able to fulfill its obligations

Monitoring and Reporting of Average Emissions

Starting from 2012, each Member State will have to record information for each new light commercial vehicle registered in its territory. The Commission should keep a central register of the data provided by the Member States and calculate for each manufacturer:

• the average specific emissions of CO2 in the preceding calendar year
• the specific emissions target in the preceding calendar year
• the difference between its average specific emissions of CO2 in the preceding calendar year


The proposal includes provisions to promote eco-innovations. Under this provision up to 7 g/km can be deducted from the average of the manufacturer’s specific CO2 emissions for innovative technologies which reduce emissions, based on independently verified data. The European Commission will adopt detailed provisions regarding the procedure in order to approve innovative technologies. They will apply the following criteria: • the supplier must be accountable for the CO2 savings achieved through the use of these technologies

• the innovative technologies must make a verified contribution to CO2 reduction
• the innovative technologies must not be covered by the standard test cycle CO2 measurement
By 1 January 2013, the Commission must complete a review of the specific emissions targets and of the derogations. 
Depending on the reactions of the Council and the Parliament, this proposal for a Regulation could become law by the end of 2010.