Dáil Éireann - Volume 398 - 22 May, 1990

Written Answers. - Car Ownership Levels.

169. Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for the Environment if his attention has been drawn to the fact that approximately 80 per cent of the world's cars are in OECD countries; if the rest of the world achieves comparable levels of car ownership, emissions of CO2 from transport would increase at least four-fold and twice this amount again if the world's population doubles; and the steps he has taken within the EC to deal with this problem.

Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): I share the Deputy's concern that a worldwide growth in car ownership could give rise to an increase in CO2 and, indeed other vehicle emissions. At EC level, standards for various vehicle exhaust emissions have been progressively tightened up, on an optional basis, by way of various directives. The [2346] most recent directive (89/458/EEC of 18 July 1989), which applies to new cars with engines below 1.4 litres capacity, imposes on a mandatory basis very strict US style emission standards. In relation to CO2 emissions, this directive commits the Council to decide on measures to limit CO2 emissions from motor vehicles on the basis of proposals to be prepared by the European Commission. At the March meeting of the Council of Environment Ministers, at which I presided, the Commission indicated that it would have those proposals ready for submission to Council early in 1991.

A consolidated draft directive, which aims to extend the requirements of Directive 89/458/EEC to cover all new cars, was submitted by the Commission in February 1990 and was the subject of an initial policy debate at the Council meeting in March. I intend that the directive will be brought before the Environment Council again at its next meeting on 7-8 June with a view to agreement on a common position.