SMMT’s new Car CO2 Report 2018 notes that while CO2 emissions rose for the first time on record, the 2017 performance is still 33.1%, or over 60g/km, lower than in 2000.
Notes the report: ” 2017 was a challenging year for the automotive sector, caused by broader economic concerns and, in particular, uncertainty over Brexit, coupled with public concern and policy announcements about the air quality performance of diesel vehicles.
“This impacted on demand in the market and contributed to the first rise in average new car carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions since SMMT began reporting at the turn of the millennium, up 0.8% to 121.0g/km.
“Ongoing improvements in efficiency and further growth in the market for battery electric, plug-in hybrid and conventional hybrid electric vehicles helped mitigate the rise – with the average new model in 2017 12.6% lower CO2 emitting than the outgoing model it replaced.”
But Greenpeace clean air campaigner Paul Morozzo does not believe the sector has done enough to reduce emissions despite significant gains over the last 20 years.
“SMMT is trying [to] shift the blame for the industry’s failure to tackle carbon emissions from cars. Its own reporting shows a shift to selling SUVs has had more of an impact on average CO2 emissions than the shift away from diesel. In reality, the industry just isn’t doing enough to tackle either carbon or air pollution from its vehicles.
“Despite increases in efficiency, cuts in carbon haven’t been enough, and we now also know diesel cars are spewing out toxic pollution that’s bad for our health too.
“There is no such thing as clean diesel. It’s bad for the climate, and for our health. If the industry is serious about meeting climate and pollution targets, it should be making clean electric vehicles that are affordable and accessible for all.”
One of the key reasons behind a rise in CO2 emissions was a move away from diesel-fuelled cars. “The rate of progress in average new car CO2 emissions had moderated and then halted in 2017 – a result of shifts in the market, in particular away from diesel-fuelled cars, which typically offer a 15-20% improvement in CO2 compared to petrol equivalents.
“In March 2017, the government announced a review of taxes on new diesel cars, which it then detailed in the November Budget 2017, to pay for mitigation measures under the National Air Quality Plan. While not due to take effect until April 2018, the announcement did have an immediate impact on diesel registrations.
“Diesel’s market share fell to 42.0% from 47.7% in 2016 and from more than 50% in 2014. Consumers may have deferred their new car purchase altogether, or switched to a petrol model, both scenarios likely to be to the detriment of CO2 emissions.”