* Carbon labels, truck emission regulations on hold-sources
* Post-2020 car, van emissions plan not expected till 2013
By Barbara Lewis
BRUSSELS, Nov 13 New European Union emissions
rules for vehicles have been put on hold or are being delayed,
EU sources and campaigners said, citing pressure from the hard
pressed auto industry.
The downgrading of green priorities is another example of
policy falling victim to industry arguments against
environmental regulation, a trend marked on Monday by
concessions to airlines.
A plan published last week to prop up the European auto
sector made no mention of carbon regulations for heavy goods
vehicles or carbon dioxide labelling to guide consumer choice,
which had been flagged previously.
"It looks like they will be dropped again," one EU source
said, asking not to be identified.
An October draft seen by Reuters of the autos action plan,
intended to make the industry competitive, innovative and
sustainable, showed a section on tackling heavy goods vehicles'
emissions and carbon dioxide labelling was crossed out.
Labelling on a vehicle's CO2 emissions and a strategy for
reducing truck emissions are also missing so far from the
European Commission's 2013 published work programme.
The Commission was not immediately available for further
Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard had vowed at the start
of her term in office in 2010 to tackle standards she saw as too
lax and she pressed ahead with proposals to tighten 2020 vehicle
emissions targets published in June.
Other measures have slipped down the agenda.
The 2020 targets were expected to be supplemented this year
with a policy document on how to follow them up.
That step is not now expected until the first part of next
year, an EU source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The delay has a knock-on effect, by pushing back subsequent
debate on more ambitious targets for further in the future, the
Some sections of industry say regulatory certainty is
crucial to business planning. Others have pressed for delay.
Daimler AG said it was too early to set goals
beyond 2020 because it was unclear how big a role electric
vehicles would play in cutting carbon.
"A revision with a concrete 2025 target should be made not
before 2016/2017," Hartmut Baur, senior manager for environment,
energy and transport policy at Daimler, previously told Reuters.
In a letter from Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger to
Volkswagen AG, dated July, Oettinger said he
welcomed the Commission's commitment to "take stock" of
emissions values by 2014, without a firm obligation to propose
carbon limits for after 2020.
"The discussion about our CO2 policy for cars after 2020 can
be held with an open-ended outcome," he wrote in the hand-signed
letter, seen by Reuters.
Some environmental campaigners argue more ambitious green
goals are crucial to Europe retaining its competitive edge in
vehicle innovation, as Asian and U.S. carmakers strive for less
polluting fuel-efficient vehicles.
"European carmakers will only be competitive if they deliver
on environmental technologies. This isn't going to happen
without regulation," Greenpeace EU Transport Policy Director
Franziska Achterberg said.
Greg Archer of campaign group Transport & Environment said:
"Smart, green regulation has driven innovation in the European
automotive industry and contributed to its global leadership ...
Delaying and weakening regulations to improve fuel economy puts
that competitive advantage at risk."
Yet the economic crisis has forced the European Commission's
environmental proposals down the agenda and strengthened the
hand of lobbyists opposed to green measures.
The EU said on Monday it would freeze for a year its rule
that all airlines must pay for their carbon emissions for
flights into and out of EU airports, following threats of
The bloc has sought to lead international efforts to limit
climate change with a set of three green goals - to cut carbon
emissions by 20 percent, increase the share of renewables in the
mix to 20 percent and to improve energy savings by 20 percent.
It has road maps laying out ambitions beyond 2020, but has
yet to agree any firm goals for after the end of the decade.