The EU Parliament has approved a draft report setting out rules for achieving the 95g/km CO2 emissions target for 2020 car sales within Europe and added an indicative target range of 68-78g/km from 2025.

In 2009, the EU set legally-binding targets for new cars to emit 130 g/km CO2 by 2015 and 95 g/km CO2 by 2020, a target which will require the encouragement of further clean-car innovation.

The EU Parliament’s Environment Committee have said that this could be achieved by giving “super-credit” weightings to each maker’s cleaner cars and setting more ambitious longer-term reduction targets.

Environmental performance testing methods should also be made more realistic, as a matter of urgency, it added. Today, CO2 figures and official fuel economy statistics, presented as mpg, are the product of a test cycle that does not often represent real world conditions, making cars seem more fuel efficient than they are in reality.

MEPs approved a draft law setting out rules for achieving the 95g target, by 47 votes to 17 with 1 abstention. They also added indicative targets for post 2020 CO2 emissions: a range of 68 to 78g/km from 2025.

All these CO2 emission limits are the average maximum allowed for car maker’s entire fleets, registered in the EU. Makers producing fewer than 1,000 cars a year should be exempt from the legislation, say MEPs.

Car makers would therefore have to produce, in addition to older, heavier or polluting models, enough cleaner ones to achieve a balance of 95g by 2020, without receiving significant financial penalties from the EU.

To achieve this, makers could use “super credits”, which assign a favourable weighting to cars that emit less than 50g of CO2. Within each manufacturer’s balance, each of these extra clean cars would count as 3.5 cars in 2013, falling to 1.3 from 2020 to 2023 and 1 from 2024 for cars emitting less than 35g CO2.

Any increase in the emissions target for each manufacturer deriving from the “super-credits” calculation would be capped at 2g. MEPs also say it should not be possible to transfer any unused super-credits from one year to another.

The committee notes that recent studies show that manufacturers have exploited weaknesses in the existing procedure for testing cars’ environmental performance, with the result that official consumption and emission figures are far from those achieved in everyday driving conditions.

MEPs therefore say that the new UN-defined World Light Duty Test Procedure (WLTP) should replace today’s procedure in EU law “as a matter of urgency”, and if possible by 2017, on the grounds that the WLTP better reflects the real conditions in which cars are used.

If both long term CO2 emission targets and more realistic fuel economy testing are enforced, then improvement to the efficiency of vehicles will be a top priority for car makers. This will certainly result in real world improvements and lower emissions from the transport sector.

In addition, car manufacturers will be encouraged to produce higher volumes of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid models, as their particularly low official combined CO2 figures will significantly help to lower the average emissions of fleets.