European lawmakers back limited reduction in car emissions

Wed Feb 3, 2016 8:28am EST
 
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By Barbara Lewis

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European lawmakers on Wednesday backed a compromise deal to reduce car emissions that will still allow vehicles to exceed official pollution limits, defying calls for more radical reform following Volkswagen's emissions-test cheating scandal.

The vote, which narrowly rejected a proposal to block the compromise, had been scheduled for January, but was delayed by bitter arguments between members of the European Parliament and fierce lobbying.

Volkswagen's (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) admission in September that it cheated U.S. diesel emissions tests created a political storm in Europe where around half of vehicles are diesel.

Diesel is particularly associated with emissions of nitrogen oxide linked to lung disease and premature deaths.

The European Commission, the EU executive, had already begun trying to close a known gap between laboratory testing of new vehicles and the real world, where toxic emissions have surged to more than seven times official limits.

However, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) said in a position paper seen by Reuters that the Commission's reform plans were too challenging for current diesel models and could threaten the technology as a whole, jeopardizing jobs across the region.

At a closed-door meeting in October, EU member states agreed a compromise -- now backed by the European Parliament -- that would cut emissions but still allow a 50 percent overshoot of the legal ceiling for nitrogen oxide of 80 milligrams/kilometer.

Mayors from cities including Copenhagen, Paris, Madrid, Milan and Naples had urged the European Parliament, meeting in Strasbourg, to reject the plan.   Continued...

 
A Volkswagen company logo adorns the VW factory in Wolfsburg, Germany December 8, 2015.  REUTERS/Carl Recine