EU's 'Euro 7' deal a setback for European emission standards

The new 'Euro 7' deal, criticised by Transport & Environment, fails to improve car emission standards, potentially impacting public health.

In brief:
  • The 'Euro 7' deal retains existing Euro 6 NOx limits, with no significant reduction in toxic emissions from new cars.
  • Transport & Environment criticises the deal for allowing carmakers to market nearly unchanged vehicles as 'cleaner' under the 'Euro 7' label.
  • The deal, yet to be voted on by the European Parliament and Environment Ministers, could affect public health due to unchanged emission standards.
In detail:

The recent agreement on the European Union's 'Euro 7' standard has sparked criticism for its failure to significantly improve air pollution limits for new cars. Transport & Environment (T&E), a leading advocacy group, has urged the European Parliament to reject the deal, which they argue allows carmakers to misleadingly promote new vehicles as 'Euro 7' despite minimal improvements over the 'Euro 6' standard set in 2014.

Under the new 'Euro 7' standard, the limits on nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter emissions remain unchanged from the Euro 6 regulations. The deal maintains the NOx limits at 60 milligrams per kilometre for petrol cars and 80 mg/km for diesel cars, disregarding the European Commission's proposal to standardise the limit at 60 mg/km for diesel vehicles.

Lucien Mathieu, T&E's cars director, expressed disappointment, stating, "The car lobby is back in control after a few years in the wilderness following Dieselgate. The Euro 7 standard agreed by lawmakers will allow car companies to greenwash vehicles that are virtually no cleaner. The European Parliament has a final chance to say no to this shameless capitulation to the auto industry."

The agreement includes a minor improvement in measuring smaller particles than the existing law, but fails to address the broader issue of NOx, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and particulate matter mass emissions. This decision could have long-term implications for public health, as carmakers often use the 'Euro' standards to market their vehicles as environmentally friendly, influencing consumer choices and regulatory decisions on vehicle taxes and low-emission zone access.

Reports last month highlighted the car industry's lobbying efforts, which T&E claims were based on misinformation to weaken the original Euro 7 plans. These plans could have prevented an estimated 35,000 premature deaths. The 'Euro 7' law, set to come into force in 2025, will determine the emission standards for nearly 100 million petrol and diesel vehicles sold in Europe.

The agreement is pending approval from the European Parliament and Environment Ministers.

As it stands, T&E warns that the dilution of emission rules for cars, vans, buses, and trucks will adversely affect citizens' health for decades.