T&E denounces ‘dirty tricks’ of the car industry
“The European car industry is using aggressive lobbying and making unsubstantiated claims in an attempt to derail EU plans to cut pollution from road transport,” revealed the NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) in a briefing paper on Thursday.
“Instead of embracing innovation to clean up toxic emissions, the car industry is aggressively lobbying against tougher regulations and using what amounts to dirty tricks, including misleading claims that the costs will threaten jobs and business,” says Anna Krajinska, Emissions Engineer with T&E.
“Lawmakers should look past industry scaremongering and focus on doing what is right for the health of millions of citizens. Affordable technology can now deliver huge cuts in vehicle emissions for less than the price of a paint upgrade for an average car. This is a unique opportunity to make the air safer to breathe across Europe,” she adds.
Cutting air pollution is a top priority of the EU Green Deal. The European Commission is currently considering recommendations for new vehicle emissions standards (regrouped as Euro 7) after convening independent experts to review the best available technology.
“EU decisions on Euro 7 standards will affect Europe’s air quality for at least a generation,” says T&E. It has calculated that 95 million cars will be sold between 2025 when the Euro 7 standard is supposed to come into force, and 2035, when the EU proposes banning sales of cars and vans with internal combustion engines (ICE).
This means that these cars could be on the road until 2050: on average, EU cars have been in use for 11 years and many for more than 15 years, especially in Eastern and Southern Europe. Sales of ICE trucks are expected to continue to the mid-2030s or later, and many stay on the road for 12 years or more.
“The European Commission estimates that adopting cleaner emission technology to meet Euro 7 standards would add between €100 and €500 to the price of a car – less than a paint upgrade on an entry-level model. For trucks, compliance would add less than 1% to the total cost of ownership over five years,” T&E adds.
In the briefing paper, ‘The seven (dirty) air pollution tricks of the auto industry’, T&E warns that the industry is trying to turn the public and governments against Euro 7 by whipping up fears that tough new standards will cripple sales and threaten jobs.
In 2020 alone, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), Volkswagen, Daimler, and BMW spent almost €9 million lobbying in Brussels, T&A claims. The industry argues that Euro 7 will cost too much and is not technically feasible.
T&E’s paper replies that emissions control technology has progressed significantly since 2008 when the current Euro 6 standards were agreed. For example, e-catalysts, which can drastically reduce emissions when the engine is first started, and vacuum aspiration, which reduces dangerous particle emissions from brakes, are viable and affordable.
“The car industry has a long history of crying wolf on emission standards, claiming that compliance will be impossible, too expensive, or cripple sales, only to fully comply and take credit once the regulation enters into force,” the paper states.
It also notes that the industry has “a long history of cheating regulation”, referring to the dieselgate scandal and the recent 875 million fine for VW and BMW for colluding with Daimler to prevent the deployment of clean emissions technology.
The European Commission is due to make draft Euro 7 proposals before the end of this year and is studying recommendations from independent emissions experts. It convened the Consortium for Ultra-Low Vehicle Emissions (CLOVE) to advise on what is now economically and technically achievable. They spent more than two years researching the best available emission technologies.
CLOVE has proposed deep cuts from Euro 6 standards across a range of emissions harmful to health: nitrogen oxide (NOx) would fall from 80 mg/km to 20 mg/km and particle emissions by more than 80%.
T&E also insists on Euro 7 to close loopholes that allow vehicles to substantially exceed legal limits, for example, during fast accelerations and short city trips. For example, it remarks that trucks can emit up to eight times the legal NOx limit in cities because the official tests do not currently cover low-speed driving.
The paper concludes: “Euro 7 must ensure that emission limits apply under all driving conditions and throughout the lifetime of the vehicle to avoid shifting the problem of air pollution to less affluent member states.”