Following the announcement that the UK saw a rise in CO2 levels for the first time in 20 years during 2017, France has now recorded its own yearly gains.
Following the near collapse of Europe’s diesel market, manufacturers are struggling to meet European CO2 targets, due to the fact that diesel vehicles emit less of the greenhouse gas than their petrol counterparts. As sales reduce, drivers switch to petrol, increasing CO2 pollution.
However, France, which like the UK is banning the sale of traditional petrol and diesel vehicles from 2040, has recorded its first rise in CO2 levels from vehicles for 25 years. On average each new vehicle sold in the country emits 111 grams of CO2 per kilometer. While this has dropped from 176 grams in 1995, when emissions started to fall, it represents a 1 gram rise on2016 figures.
New vehicle registrations in France rose by 4.7% in 2017, however, highlighting the decline of diesel following a year of decay in the market, the share in France fell below 50% for the first time since 2000. Registrations declined 5% for the year to 47% of all registrations, with a fall of 10% in December alone. Up until five years ago, diesel made up around 75% of sales in the country
According to figures released in France, manufacturers are not far from the EU target of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer that they need to achieve from new car sales in order to avoid heavy fines. Renault and PSA are currently at 107 grams, with Fiat at 122 grams and Volkswagen at 119 grams. According to figures, Toyota is the closest mainstream manufacturer to the targets with 98 grams per kilometer.
The news is likely to cause concern in both national governments and the European Commission. Countries such as France and the UK are demonising the fuel, with Britain adding increased tax rates to new diesels while France incentivises drivers to switch to petrol and what it believes are ‘less polluting’ models.
The UK move has confused the industry, as manufacturers question why cleaner diesels are being penalised as used models retain their favourable vehicle excise duty (VED) rates.
The news of rises in CO2 levels will no doubt cause some debate over whether the continued persecution of the fuel is the correct course of action, or whether any ‘sanctions’ should be revised to reverse the CO2 rise.
Germany too saw an increase in CO2 levels last year, up 0.7% compared to 2016. However, unlike other countries, the German Government is fighting for its diesel industry, encouraging manufacturers to recall vehicles to clean up their emission profiles.