N.Peter Kramer ’s Weekly Column
How many air pollutants can cars and vans with combustion engines in the EU still emit by the end of 2025? It is a question that has occupied the automotive sector and environmentalists for quite a time. Today all new cars must meet the Euro 6 standard, which predates dieselgate. The EU has been working on the next version of that emission standard: Euro 7. For a long time it looked as if the EU would limit air pollution from all types of combustion engines much further. But now, it looks like the European Commission would have abandoned that idea. At least, that would appear from a leaked draft text that the Politico website could view!
The new standard for combustion engines would not differ much from what Euro 6 standard already imposes. Only the emissions of the new generation of diesel engines would be limited and equated with the current emission standard for petrol engines. In practice, nothing would change for petrol. Fine dust from tyres and brakes would be included in the new Euro 7 rules, as would the durability of car batteries in the new models. Relatively minor adjustments, certainly in comparison with the much stricter recommendations from experts.
The commission would like to save the car industry, which suffers from the rising costs of inflation, expensive energy and new heavy investments, and give some financial breathing room. In this way it can invest more money in the electrification of the vehicle fleet, rather than pumping money into combustion engines, as the EU wants to ban the sale of diesel and petrol cars from 2035.
The new approach of the Commission relieves the car manufacturers but angers environmental activists. According to the NGO Transport & Environment (T&E), the lax emission standards will lead to hundred million extra polluting cars: ‘Four years ago, we calculated that emissions from road transport, especially nitrogen oxides, cause about 70.000 premature deaths per year’. The T&E press release continues: ‘That (the Commission) ignores the advice of the experts is outrageous. The auto sector has long lobbied against the Euro 7 standard. The profit of car manufacturers is more important than the health of millions of Europeans’.
It looks like the car lobby wins…