EU threatens renewed postponement of CO2 reduction

14 January 2008

EU threatens renewed postponement of CO2 reduction

The European Parliament this evening debated the strategy for limiting CO2 emissions from cars. SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard, commenting on the debate, said: “Now the centre-right liberal group seems to be dancing to the tune of the car manufacturers’ lobby. They want to allow even higher emissions than does the European Commission.” Liotard’s views incurred the wrath of the Parliament’s rapporteur on the issue, the German liberal Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, but that didn't stop her from filing a number of amendments to Chatzimarkis’ report in an attempt to give it teeth.

Kartika LiotardThe European Commission last year announced that it would be working towards a maximum CO2 emission level for cars of 120 grammes per kilometre by the year 2012. “That’s the absolute least we must do if we want to get anywhere near the Kyoto goals,” says Kartika Liotard. Yet Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, the parliament’s rapporteur on the issue, calls in his report for car manufacturers to be given longer to achieve a less exacting maximum: 125 grammes per kilometre by 2015.

“That might seem to be an insignificant difference,” Liotard says, “but not if you count it up: 5 grammes for every kilometre covered by every car in Europe! It would send, moreover, a totally wrong political signal. Car manufacturers have had years to introduce measures themselves, but this possibility was never taken sufficiently seriously, even though they had made an agreement with the European Commission to take voluntary steps to reduce their emissions. The car industry's lobby is still unwilling to accept strict environmental demands, and in my view Mr Chatzimarkakis has listened far too closely to their arguments.”

Chatzimarkakis took particular offence at this last remark, leading him to take up almost the whole of the second part of his presentation – in which the rapporteur is expected to respond to other members’ remarks – in reacting to Kartika Liotard’s criticisms. “I obviously touched a raw nerve,” she said.

The European Parliament Environment Committee, of which Liotard is a member, had earlier called on the rapporteur to maintain the demand for a limit of 120 grammes and the deadline of 2012. “I proposed an amendment to this effect which remains to be voted by the parliament later this week,” she said. “If it isn't carried, this report will actually represent a weakening of the Commission proposal, reason enough for us to vote against it.”

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