Average CO2 emissions of new cars registered in the EU, Iceland, Norway and the United Kingdom in 2020 decreased by 12% compared with 2019 levels, according to the final data published by the European Environment Agency. The drop was largely due to the steep increase in the number of zero- and low-emission vehicles registered, increasing from 3.5% in 2019 to 11.6% in 2020, as new fleet-wide CO2 targets came into application. CO2 emissions from new vans also decreased, albeit less spectacularly, by 2% as compared to 2019.
While most manufacturers complied with their emission targets, six individual passenger car manufacturers, two pools of passenger car manufacturers, and one manufacturer of light commercial vehicles were found to have exceeded their emissions target in 2020. As a result, they will be required to pay excess emission premiums totaling nearly EUR 510 million, revenue which will be added to the EU general budget.
The final data from laboratory testing shows that the average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of the 11.7 million new passenger cars registered in 2020 in the EU, Iceland, Norway and the United Kingdom fell to 107.5 g CO2/km, which is 14.5 g CO2/km (-12%) below the average emissions in the previous year. This is by far the greatest annual decrease in emissions since CO2 standards started to apply in 2010.
The main reason for this sharp decrease was the surge in the share of electric vehicle registrations, which tripled, from 3.5% in 2019 to 11.6% in 2020 (including 6.2 % full electric vehicles and 5.4 % plug-in hybrid electric vehicles). Despite the shrinking overall market for new cars due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the total number of new electric cars registered in 2020 increased, up to over 1 million.
This significant step forward results from the phase-in of a stricter EU fleet-wide CO2 target in 2020. It also shows the effect of the targeted recovery measures put in place by Member States, stimulating the uptake of zero- and low-emission vehicles and investments in recharging infrastructure.
The average CO2 emissions of the 1.4 million new vans sold in the EU, Iceland, Norway and the United Kingdom in 2020 were 155 g CO2/km, which is a slight improvement (by 3 g CO2/km) compared to 2019. Limited progress was made in the electrification of vans, with their market share increasing from 1.4% in 2019 to around 2.3% in 2020, most of which were fully electric vehicles.
Overall, transport sector greenhouse gas emissions have increased in the past three decades and they were 27.8% higher in 2019 compared to 1990. Emissions dropped in 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis. Among the road transport modes, cars have a dominant role, accounting for 60.6% of emissions.
The Commission’s Fit for 55 package presented in July 2021 included several proposals, including a revision of the CO2 emission performance of new passenger care and new light commercial vehicles, which aim to further reduce these emissions in view of the EU’s 2050 climate neutrality objective.
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