Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transport sector is a key priority for the EU. The transport sector is responsible for about one third of the total CO2 emissions in the EU, and it has not seen the same reduction in emissions as other sectors.

What the data are telling us

  • The latest provisional data show that average CO2 emissions from new passenger cars registered in 2020 decreased significantly, after 3 years of consecutive increases. Following a steady decline until 2016, average CO2 emissions from new passenger cars registered in Europe increased between 2017 and 2019. Key reasons included the growth in the sport utility vehicle segment and an increase in average vehicle mass.
  • The reduction in CO2 emissions observed in 2020 was mostly due to a higher share of new registrations of electric vehicles in the fleet, up from 3.5 % in 2019 to 11 % in 2020. The share of sport utility vehicles in new car registrations continued to increase.
  • Petrol cars were the most sold passenger vehicles, accounting for 58 % of all new registrations. Diesel vehicles accounted for 29 % of new registrations, including hybrid electric vehicles. The share of battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (in the new fleet increased from 3.5 % to 11 %.
  • Following a steady decline between 2012 and 2017 then a slight increase between 2017 and 2019, average specific CO2 emissions from new van registrations decreased moderately in 2020 by 2.3 g CO2/km to 155.7 g CO2/km, based on provisional data. This decrease was, however, insufficient to meet the EU fleet-wide target of 147 g CO2/km, applicable since 2020.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic influenced the number of new vehicles registered in 2020: new registrations were 18 % lower than in 2019. In 2020, 1.36 million new vans were registered in the EU, Iceland, Norway and the United Kingdom.
  • Diesel vehicles accounted for 94 % of new registrations in 2020 and petrol vehicles for 2.5 %. However, sales of new battery-electric vehicles continued to increase slowly, reaching only about 2.2 % in 2020, compared with 1.4 % in 2019.

To reduce CO2 emissions in the road transport sector, the European Parliament and the Council adopted regulations introducing mandatory CO2 emission performance standards for new passenger cars and new light commercial vehicles. Regulation (EU) No 2019/631 sets EU fleet-wide targets for average emissions of 95 g CO2/km for new passenger cars and 147 g CO2/km for new light commercial vehicles for the period after 2020. The EU fleet-wide targets for 2025 and 2030 are defined as a percentage reduction of the 2021 starting point. The regulation requires a 15 % reduction from 2025 and a 37.5 % reduction from 2030 onwards for new passenger cars, and a 15 % reduction from 2025 and a 31 % reduction from 2030 onwards for new light commercial vehicles.

Where the data come from

According to the regulations, data on new registrations of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, including their CO2 emissions, are to be collected each year by Member States and submitted to the European Commission. Manufacturers can verify the data and notify the Commission of any errors identified in the data set. The Commission assesses the manufacturers’ corrections, and, where justified, takes them into account in calculating their average CO2 emissions and specific emission targets.