Shifting fuel economy up a gear in Brussels

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Professor Dan Sperling of GFEI partner UC Davis also spoke at the event.
Professor Dan Sperling of GFEI partner UC Davis also spoke at the event.

Sheila Watson, Executive Secretary of the GFEI, gave a powerful message to EU vehicle policy stakeholders in Brussels on 6th September 2017, highlighting the need for effective regulation to drive fuel economy improvements.

Speaking at the ‘Shift Up a Gear’ event in Brussels, which focused on how to improve vehicle efficiency and reduce emissions, she highlighted GFEI’s analysis on fuel economy trends, including a decade of evidence that suggests that ambitious policy frameworks are vital. The event, organised by the NGO Transport & Environment, provided a forum for major stakeholders to give their perspectives on future EU vehicle regulation and encourage policy and technical exchange. The European Commission is due to propose new CO2 vehicle regulations in the coming weeks.

Sheila Watson, speaking in a panel on post-2020 CO2 standards around the world, set out the huge potential gains from fuel economy, highlighting the multiple benefits in terms of reduced fuel costs for consumers, as well as reducing fuel import costs and lowering carbon dioxide emissions. She also gave an overview of GFEI’s analysis of current fuel economy trends globally, emphasising how countries can develop effective policy frameworks to reduce emissions. Analysis by experts at the IEA (GFEI Working Paper 15) indicates that in the absence of effective regulation fuel economy stagnates.

Countries have made strong commitments to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions as part of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which provide a strong global policy framework for cleaner and more efficient vehicles. GFEI is supporting over 50 countries to take steps to develop fuel economy policies, starting with detailed analysis to develop a strong understand their vehicle fleets, and then working with stakeholders to support them to develop appropriate policies for their local context.

Finally, Sheila Watson highlighted the need for better enforcement and to address the gap between tested and real world emissions – both for fuel economy and the legitimacy of the regulations, but also for other harmful pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, which can cause respiratory illness. She urged the EU to learn the lessons from ‘dieselgate’ and monitor the effectiveness of emissions controls in real-world conditions and ensure effective ongoing enforcement is in place.