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With more than 15 million cars and trucks sold annually, the 27-member European Union is the world's most important vehicle market. Every fourth vehicle sold worldwide is produced in or imported into Europe, and its influence on the business decisions of major global vehicle manufacturers is significant.
Traditionally, the EU has set the pace for the reduction of greenhouse gases from transport and conventional pollutants. Europe is home to a large number of innovative vehicle manufacturers and suppliers, providing advanced technologies that help reduce emissions from transportation.
Yet the transportation sector in Europe is the only one that has not managed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions since 1990. In fact, emissions from transport have increased by 20% between 1990 and 2009. This is why additional measures to control vehicle emissions are urgently required. A prominent example is the proposed standard of 95 grams per kilometer of CO2 for new light-duty vehicles from 2020 on. Because of Europe’s leadership role in setting standards for the reduction of conventional and greenhouse gas pollutants, the ICCT works with EU regulators to provide relevant technical analyses and statistical data and to develop rules that are as technically advanced and cost-effective as possible.
There are currently two major pieces of legislation supporting alternative fuels in Europe. These are the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), imposing a 10% 2020 target for the use of renewable energy (primarily biofuels) in transport, and the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD), imposing a target for reducing the overall carbon intensity of transport fuels by 6% by 2020. Importantly for policies that explicitly aim at climate change mitigation, the Directives do not yet provide adequate safeguards to ensure that European biofuels will deliver net carbon reductions. While they include a lifecycle carbon accounting methodology for biofuels, indirect emissions due to expanding biofuel use are left out—the most recent European Commission analysis suggested that biodiesel would offer no benefit compared to fossil diesel without further additional restrictions being imposed. The Commission is required by the Directives to propose a methodology to ensure that the targeted carbon reductions are really achieved. The Directives also prevent biofuel crops from being established at the expense of certain high carbon and high biodiversity ecosystems, but fall short of including the type of comprehensive sustainability assurance offered by voluntary schemes such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB). Additional protection may, however, be afforded if producers use certification under these more comprehensive schemes as a route to demonstrate compliance with the RED/FQD criteria; several have already been accredited by the Commission.