Average CO2 emissions from newly registered motor vehicles

Indicator Specification
Indicator codes: TERM 017
Created 06 Feb 2018 Published 11 Jun 2018 Last modified 22 Nov 2018
2 min read
Average specific CO 2 emissions mean the CO 2 emissions of passenger cars or light commercial vehicles measured in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 and specified as the CO 2 mass emissions (combined) in the certificate of conformity. It includes new motor vehicles registered in the specific year  in the EU-28 . 

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)


Justification for indicator selection

The Transport White Paper sets an objective of reducing transport greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 60 % by 2050, compared with 1990 levels. By 2030, the goal for transport will be to reduce GHG emissions to around 20 % below their 2008 level (or 8 % above the 1990 level). Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from passenger cars and light commercial vehicles represent almost three-quarters of all GHG emissions in road transport (please see EEA GHG data viewer). Given their dominance, it is of utmost importance to reach a balance between societal and economic demands, and environmental targets. 

This indicator has been selected to monitor the fuel efficiency improvements of newly registered passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. It enables assessment of progress towards the targets set by Regulation (EC) No 443/2009 and Regulation (EU) No 510/2011. 

Scientific references

  • No rationale references available

Indicator definition

Average specific CO2 emissions mean the CO2 emissions of passenger cars or light commercial vehicles measured in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 and specified as the CO2 mass emissions (combined) in the certificate of conformity. It includes new motor vehicles registered in the specific year in the EU-28


For new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, tailpipe emissions are expressed in grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre (g CO2/km).

Policy context and targets

Context description

In 1995, the European Commission adopted a Community strategy to reduce CO2 emissions from passenger cars and improve fuel economy. This was a follow-up to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which marked an agreement to stabilise GHG concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. The strategy was based on the following elements (pillars):

  • an agreement with the auto industry on a reduction in the fuel consumption of new cars sold, 
  • the promotion of fuel-efficient cars via fiscal measures,
  • improved consumer information.

In 1998, a voluntary agreement was reached between the European Commission and the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) to reduce average emissions from new cars sold to 140 g CO2/km by 2008. Voluntary commitments from Japanese and Korean manufacturers set a target of 140 g CO2/km by 2009.

In February 2007, the Commission adopted a Communication on the results of the review of the Community Strategy to reduce CO2 emissions from passenger cars and light-commercial vehicles. It acknowledged that progress went some way towards a target of 140 g CO2/km, however, it highlighted that the EU objective of 120 g CO2/km would not be met by 2012 in the absence of additional measures. 

Therefore, the European Commission decided to establish CO2 emission performance requirements for new passenger cars in 2009. A similar approach was established for new light commercial vehicles in 2011.

On 8 November 2017, the European Commission presented a legislative proposal setting new CO2 emission standards for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles (vans) in the European Union for the period after 2020.  The proposal is being discussed by the European Parliament and the Council.


For new passenger cars, Regulation (EU) No 443/2009 sets the average CO2 specific emission target at 130 g CO2/km by 2015. This is defined as the average value for the fleet of newly registered passenger cars in the EU. A target of 95 g CO2/km was set for 2021 (phase-in from 2020).

For new light commercial vehicles, Regulation (EU) No 510/2011sets the average CO2 emissions target at 175 g CO2/km by 2017. This is defined as the average value for the fleet of newly registered vans in the EU. A medium-term target of 147 g CO2/km was set for 2020.

Related policy documents

Key policy question

Are new passenger cars becoming more efficient?

Specific policy question

Are new light commercial vehicles becoming more efficient?


Methodology for indicator calculation

Average specific emissions of CO2 are calculated as a weighted average of the Member State's fleet of new registrations in a particular year. 

Methodology for gap filling

No gap filling is foreseen. 

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Data specifications

EEA data references

Data sources in latest figures


Methodology uncertainty

Member States report CO2 emission levels of new vehicles, measured under standardised laboratory conditions, following the requirements of the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) test procedure. Due to growing acceptance that the NEDC test procedure was outdated and did not necessarily represent real-world driving conditions and emissions, in June 2016, the European Commission proposed to adopt the more demanding World Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), a globally harmonised test procedure developed within the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Following recent agreement within the EU, the new WLTP test is now mandatory for all new vehicle types introduced after September 2017 and for all new vehicles from September 2018.

Data sets uncertainty

The EEA performs several quality checks to evaluate the accuracy and quality of the data sets. On the basis of these checks and feedback from Member States and vehicle manufacturers, the EEA and the European Commission assess the corrections and, where justified, take them into account for the calculation of average CO2 emissions and specific emission targets. The EEA then finalises and publishes the databases.

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified.

Further work

Short term work

Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.

Long term work

Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Diana Vedlugaite


European Environment Agency (EEA)


Indicator code
TERM 017
Version id: 1

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year


DPSIR: State
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)

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Data used

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