California Motor Vehicle Standards and Federalism: Lessons for the European Union

author(s): 
Ann E. Carlson
2009

The world's financial crisis has, according to press accounts, already led the European Union to propose less stringent carbon emissions standards for automobiles than proposed just a year ago. European carmakers are likely to be granted three year extensions from the EU's original proposal to limit carbon dioxide from passenger cars by 2012. Even prior to the financial turmoil auto manufacturers strongly opposed the EU proposal and its passage was uncertain at best. European passenger automobiles are already more fuel efficient, on average, than the U.S. fleet (roughly 40 miles per gallon v. 27.5 MPG) and hence produce less carbon dioxide than their American counterparts. But as in the U.S., passenger car emissions have been growing more rapidly than other carbon emitting sectors and a voluntary agreement to limit carbon dioxide emissions, agreed to by the European Commission and the Association des Constructeurs Europeens d'Atomobiles (ACEA) in 1998, has failed to achieve agreed upon levels by 2008. Moreover the EU needs to meet more stringent emissions standards if it is to meet ambitious goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to 20 percent below 1990 levels.

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