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Comments by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) to the Commission's proposals about Winning the Battle Against Global Climate Change COM(2005) 35 final

Publication date: 10 November 2005


The existence and causes of the enhanced greenhouse effect have been a matter of vigorous debate for many years. Although it is difficult to accurately quantify human influence on the greenhouse effect, there is now a widespread, although by no means complete, consensus for the view that global warming is occurring and is being influenced by the human population. The surge in heavy industrial activity during the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century, deforestation and population growth have all played their part. In the second half of the twentieth century emissions from transport have also contributed to greenhouse gases.


Mobility has become an essential element of the welfare of modern human societies. Affordable mobility is indispensable to promote sustainable housing, labour flexibility as well as social relations and family life.


Mobility is like many other sectors of our economies using energy through burning fossil fuels and emitting greenhouse gases like CO2. The transport sector has tremendously improved its capability and has reached in Europe a high efficiency level. In the EU, where CO2 emissions from road transport have increased by 9% during the 1990’s, the automobile manufacturers associations have committed to reducing CO2 emissions from new cars by 25% over this decade.

In this respect the FIA welcomes and supports the proposal for Directive on Taxation of Passenger Cars as a vital part of the European Union’s strategy to achieve sustainable mobility in the twenty-first century. The FIA believes that that tax incentives represent an effective and efficient instrument to behavioural patterns. This also concerns the further development of fuel alternatives.


However we should keep in mind that climate change is a global issue and necessary emission reductions should be done where this is the most cost efficient independently from the geographical location, the sector of economic activity or the type of greenhouse gas. We there welcome the view of the Commission to:

  • Seek a wider participation to the greenhouse gases reduction effort
  • Include more policy areas
  • Enhance innovation
  • Use market based and flexible instruments

If further CO2 emission reductions prove to be efficient in the field of passenger cars, the most cost-efficient strategy needs to be set-up. This is in the interest of all automotive stakeholders, the industry, the authorities and above all the mobile consumers.

The FIA’s proposals for achieving emission reductions in the car transport sector

1 Promoting fuel efficient cars

1.1 Vehicle engineering
In its Communication of 09.02.2005 the EU Commission suggests to improve the fuel economy of vehicles. Further substantial reductions in CO2 emissions from the motor car sector ultimately depend on a new generation of ultra clean and highly efficient vehicles. On board diagnostics, improved aerodynamics, reduced rolling resistance of tyres and lightweight materials are some of the technological developments that will improve fuel economy. Voluntary agreements with the car industry to target CO2 reduction are a valuable stimulus to bringing new technologies to the market.


1.2 Driver assistance
On board telematic systems, in particular navigation aids, adaptive cruise control, route guidance, congestion warning systems and parking information systems, will improve the efficiency of motor transport.


1.3 Engine improvements
Direct injection technology has improved the fuel efficiency of conventional internal combustion engines. The progress that has been made in the field of Diesel fuel technology is impressive in terms of fuel efficiency and therefore of CO2 emissions. The remaining problem of small particles is on the verge of being solved with the spread of the particle filter. In order to roll-out this technology as quickly as possible the FIA supports financial incentives to promote their use.


1.4 Alternative fuels and engine systems
Moreover alternative fuels and engine systems, including liquid and non-liquid fuels, hybrid engines, battery-powered electric vehicles and fuel cell power sources need to be further developed. Special attention should be given to biofuels such as Biodiesel. A specific refuelling and distribution infrastructure is needed. Moreover, with computer controlled matching of engine and transmission, using a high efficiency automatic gearbox, Intelligent and Integrated Powertrains can optimise overall efficiency.


1.5 Car manufacturing
As car production necessitates a high energy consumption, new manufacturing methods (shorter production lines, reduced welding, lower temperature in paint backing, more efficient assembly, etc.) reduce the amount of energy used to produce a car.

2 Investing in the environment

2.1 Fiscal incentives
The tax system should be used positively to reward the purchase of low-emission cars, in terms of both CO2 and toxic pollutants, rather than just being operated as a penalty-driven regime. As voluntary regulation or legislation, the emphasis must be on replacing the car fleet as quickly as possible by less polluting and more fuel-efficient vehicles. The FIA therefore welcomes the initiative of the Commission to abandon registration taxes and include a CO2 element in car circulation taxing.


2.2 Investment in transport
The Communication suggests reducing car dependence. Car use is essential for economic development and social life. If governments are serious about reducing CO2 emissions, they must provide specific alternatives. For some types of journey and activity the car has become even more essential because public transport has been neglected as a result of short-sighted
planning decisions. Integrating modes of transport and Intelligent Transport Systems must be a priority.


2.3 Land-use planning
Land-use planning must be a central element of any CO2 reduction strategy. Policies for urban renewal can halt the drift to out-of-town developments and increased car dependence.

3 Fuel efficient driving

3.1 Consumer information and education
Clear information on fuel economy is needed to influence the motorist’s purchase decisions (publication of fuel economy tests and point-of-sale labelling). Moreover fuel efficient driving needs to be further promoted through eco-driving education schemes.


3.2 Driver behaviour
On board diagnostics should inform drivers about the performance of their vehicle and the consequences of driving habits and maintenance.


3.3 Well designed infrastructure
The road infrastructure (general design, traffic lights, circulation planning, etc.) should allow an optimal traffic flow. For example badly adjusted traffic lights can have as negative an effect as congestion.

4 Carbon sequestration

Afforestation schemes should be an integral part of countering global warming.


Over the past fifty years alongside the tremendous economical growth the number of cars in the world has increased from 50 million to around 450 million. An inevitable consequence of this growth in vehicle numbers has been the car's increased contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. The car industry has therefore taken seriously its responsibilities for reducing greenhouse emissions and reached a relatively high efficiency level. The FIA welcomes voluntary agreements by the oil and automotive industries to reduce emissions.


However cars still only account for 11% of global greenhouse emissions. Although significant, the role of the car in global warming must be kept in perspective. CO2 emissions from cars are now falling. The overwhelming majority of greenhouse gas emissions are
caused by industrial or domestic use of fossil fuels. The total transport sector, including air travel, heavy goods vehicles and passenger cars, accounts for just one fifth of global CO2 emissions. Reductions in the emissions from cars are vital if global targets are to be achieved, but these reductions will only make a small contribution to solving a problem that mostly lies elsewhere.´


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