Audit report shows CO2 emissions from combustion cars have remained constant for twelve years

According to a report by the European Court of Auditors, most combustion cars on Europe's roads still emit as much carbon dioxide as they did twelve years ago. According to the EU auditors, the decline in average CO2 emissions in practical driving conditions recorded in recent years is exclusively due to electric cars.

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Over the past decade, actual emissions from diesel vehicles have remained constant, while they have fallen slightly for petrol vehicles (-4.6%), according to a European Court of Auditors report. According to the audit report, technical progress has made engines more efficient. However, greater vehicle weight (around +10% on average) and higher engine power (around +25% on average) offset this. According to the report, the same applies to hybrid vehicles. In practical driving, they tend to produce significantly higher emissions than those measured in the laboratory.

To be able to better assess the actual emissions of hybrids, the Court of Auditors states that the proportionate use of the electric and combustion engines should be recorded more precisely, but only from 2025. “Until then, plug-in hybrids will continue to be treated as low-emission vehicles, to the benefit of car manufacturers,” the EU auditors conclude. This allows manufacturers to continue to apply some provisions of the CO2 Regulation, which has saved them almost 13 billion euros in charges for exceeding emissions in 2020 alone.

“The EU’s green revolution can only happen if there are far fewer polluting vehicles, but the challenge is huge,” said Pietro Russo, the ECA member who led the audit. “A true and tangible reduction in cars’ CO2 emissions will not occur as long as the combustion engine prevails, but at the same time, electrifying the EU’s car fleet is a major undertaking.”


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