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New car emissions test rules will cut air pollution

Date

03 Feb 2016

Sections

Innovation & Enterprise
Transport
Climate & Environment

Today, the European Parliament paved the way for better emissions test rules for cars.

"The European Parliament has taken a pragmatic decision. While the agreement is far from perfect, the adoption allows for a swift implementation of on-the-road emissions tests. It offers an effective way to cut air pollution by diesel cars significantly in the short term," said MEP Ivo Belet, member of the Inquiry Committee on car emissions (EMIS), in reaction to a vote on whether to object to the recently-agreed test rules for car emissions. In the end, the European Parliament decided not to object to the rules.

The European Parliament has managed to improve the agreement on test rules between the Member States significantly by including an annual review of the Real Driving Emissions test (RDE) conformity factor, taking into account technical improvements in the car industry. The rules allow for some flexibility to give the automotive industry time to adjust to them. And the European Parliament will monitor closely to ensure that the gap between real driving emissions and regulatory limits is closed as quickly as technological innovation allows.

"Vetoing the agreement on new test rules (RDE) would have meant a legal vacuum of at least 2 years, uncertainty for car owners and manufacturers and no progress whatsoever for the environment. Instead, we can now rapidly implement the on-road tests, which, together with the Commission proposals for a major overhaul of the EU type approval framework, will make it very difficult to circumvent emissions requirements," Ivo Belet said.

However, as MEP Peter Liese, EPP Group Coordinator in the Environment Committee (ENVI), points out, the decision of the Council's expert committee had been criticised by ENVI for being not ambitious enough.

"The problem is that we could not modify the decision, but could only vote yes or no. I could have imagined even more stringent limits, but if we had rejected the current limits, the danger would have been that we would still only have had tests in the laboratory for years. This would not have been a step forward for the environment. The difference between the limits decided now and pure laboratory tests is much higher than the difference between the adopted limits and the theoretically strictest value," Peter Liese said.

Before the vote, the European Commission had issued a statement to announce a review of the conformity factors next year already. In addition, the Commission had submitted a proposal last week to dramatically increase controls on European roads. Apparently, this has changed the minds of a number of MEPs.

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