Indicator Specification

CO2 performance of new passenger cars in Europe

Indicator Specification
  Indicator codes: TERM 017
Published 01 Jun 2021 Last modified 01 Jun 2021
2 min read
Average specific emissions of CO 2  are calculated as a weighted average of new registrations of cars in a particular year. 

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). GHG emissions from passenger cars and vans (light commercial vehicles) represent almost three-quarters of all GHG emissions in road transport (see EEA GHG data viewer). Given their dominance, it is of the 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 cars. It enables the assessment of progress towards the targets set by  Regulation (EU) No 2019/631.

Scientific references

  • No rationale references available

Indicator definition

Average specific emissions of CO2 are calculated as a weighted average of new registrations of cars in a particular year. 


Emissions are expressed in grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre (g CO2/km).


Policy context and targets

Context description

Transport consumes one third of all final energy in the EU. The bulk of this energy comes from oil. This means that transport is responsible for a large share of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions and a major contributor to climate change. While most other economic sectors, such as power production and industry, have reduced their emissions since 1990, those from transport have risen. They now account for more than one quarter of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions. A reversal of this trend is currently not in sight. That makes the transport sector a major obstacle to realising the EU’s climate protection goals. EU strategy documents focus on decarbonising transport. The European Commission’s 2018 strategy ‘A Clean Planet for all: A European strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy’ seeks to chart the course for a transition towards ‘net-zero’ greenhouse gas emissions across the EU by 2050. For transport, it underlines the need for a system-based approach, stresses the importance of switching to low-carbon modes and zero-emission vehicles, underlines the central role of electrification and renewable energy sources, and pushes for operational efficiency improvements. Similarly, from 2016, the ‘European Strategy for low-emission mobility’ has identified a more efficient transport system, the rapid deployment of low-emission fuels and the transition towards low- and zero-emission vehicles as priority areas for action (EEA, 2020).


The average fleet target for 2019 is 130 gCO2/km.

Specific target for manufacturers/pools are calculated according the formulae in the section 'methodology'.

Related policy documents

No related policy documents have been specified

Key policy question

CO2 performance of new passenger cars in Europe, aggregated assessment level

Specific policy question

CO2 performance of new passenger cars in Europe, disaggregated assessment level



Methodology for indicator calculation

Average specific CO2 emissions are calculated as a weighted average of the fleet registered in a particular year. For calculating manufacturers’ average emissions, eco-innovations are also taken into account.

For each manufacturer annual specific emissions target is defined, calculated on the basis of the fleet-wide target and the average ‘mass in running order’ of the registered vehicles.

According to the Regulations 2019/631, the following formulae applied for calculating the specific emission targets for cars until 2019 (included):

Passenger cars: 130 + a × (M – M0) 


- M is the average mass of the manufacturer’s fleet in kilograms;

- M0 is the reference mass;

- a is 0.0457.



EEA, 2019, Trends and projections in Europe 2019 — tracking progress towards Europe’s climate and energy targets, EEA Report No 15/2019, European Environment Agency ( accessed 11 March 2019.

EU, 2009, Regulation (EC) No 443/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the Community’s integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles (OJ L 140, 5.6.2009, p. 1-15).

EU, 2019, Regulation (EU) 2019/631 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 setting CO2 emission performance standards for new passenger cars and for new light commercial vehicles, and repealing Regulations (EC) No 443/2009 and (EU) No 510/2011 (OJ L 111, 25.4.2019, p. 13-53).

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


Data sets uncertainty


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

Cinzia Pastorello


European Environment Agency (EEA)


Indicator code
TERM 017
Version id: 2

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year


DPSIR: State
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)



Filed under:
Filed under: road transport
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