By Elena Price
The EU has moved to cut emissions from vans by imposing new fuel efficiency targets, although campaigners remain adamant the proposed standards are not strong enough to reduce businesses’ fuel bills. Environment ministers meeting in Brussels yesterday voted for a deal to cut carbon dioxide emissions from vans by around 14% to an average of 175 grams per kilometre by 2017.

Vans Emissions

An agreement was reached after Germany, home to car giants Mercedes and Volkswagen, objected to a much tougher target of 135 grams per kilometre by 2020, put forward by the European Commission last week. Germany’s environment minister, Norbert Roettgen, hailed the new standards as a good compromise deal.

“It achieves substantial CO2 reductions to my knowledge 27%. It is feasible, it is a technological challenge, but it keeps us in a leadership position.”

EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard similarly welcomed the deal, hailing the new rules as “an important step forward in curbing transport emissions”. However, green campaigners felt that given the significant efficiency improvements manufacturers have made in recent years, the watered down target will put little pressure on car firms to step up fuel efficiency efforts.

“The industry said it couldn’t make a 14% improvement in van efficiency over nine years, meanwhile, it managed to improve car efficiency at more than three times that rate last year. Policymakers must to a better job of holding the industry to account when it makes such claims.”