There are a staggering 220 million cars on Europe's roads and that number is growing all the time. The CO2 they emit is 12% of the yearly total for the whole European Union. This week MEPs debated proposals by the European Commission to increase fuel efficiency and substantially cut CO2 emissions within 4 years. In October Members called on Europe's car makers to meet even tougher CO2 emissions targets. In the mid-1990's voluntary targets on CO2 emissions from cars were set at 120g of CO2 per kilometre by 2012. Since then heavier and more powerful cars have made that target unrealistic. At present average levels are 160g of CO2 per kilometre. The Commission is proposing penalties of up to €95 per gram, per kilometre for manufacturers who don't meet the targets. The European Parliament approved a target of 125g CO2/km by 2015 and a long-term target of 95g CO2/km by 2020 last October.This all sounds great, even if you are a climate change sceptic, cars with greater fuel efficiency are going to be needed with the predicted rise in fuel costs. However there is one glaring problem with the EU's proposal - and that is that it is in direct conflict with one of its own directives which requires all new motor vehicles (from 2011) to be fitted with daytime running lamps. Research undertaken for the Department for Transport indicated that the requirement for new types of motor vehicle to be equipped with dedicated daytime running lamps would result in an increase of about 5 per cent in fuel consumption. We have 5 million new vehicles on our roads each year, God alone knows how many new cars there are across the EU each year.
So that's every new car in the EU burning five per cent more fuel - just how exactly is that going to fight climate change?