Average CO2 emissions of cars sold in UK up for third year in row

Popularity of SUVs and falling diesel sales hit Britain’s hopes of reaching climate targets

The average carbon dioxide emissions of cars sold in the UK rose for the third year in a row during 2019 as falling diesel sales and the rising popularity of SUVs dealt a blow to Britain’s hopes of reaching climate targets.

Average CO2 emissions rose for the third year in a row, up 2.7% year on year to 127.9g of CO2 per kilometre, according to data from the car industry body. This is far above the newly introduced EU target of 95g per kilometre carmakers need to achieve over this year and next for all new cars. Cars account for just over 18% of UK emissions, according to government figures. Transport emissions as a whole account for a third of the UK total, with the sector viewed as vital contributor if the country is to achieve goals of cutting emissions to 51% of 1990 levels by 2025 and to reach net zero by 2050.

All manufacturers selling in the EU are rushing to meet emissions regulations that came into force on 1 January. The regulations were introduced in response to the climate crisis, with road transport a major contributor to global CO2 emissions.

Overall UK car sales fell by 2.4% year on year to about 2.3m, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, with the industry body blaming Brexit uncertainty and the slump in diesel sales as the main factors.

This indicates the worst year for the UK market since 2013, when sales were 2.26m. They reached a peak of 2.7m in 2016 but have declined steadily since.

A quarter of the CO2 increase was caused by the 21.8% drop in diesel sales over the year. Newer diesels on average have lower CO2 emissions than petrol cars, despite a backlash prompted by air quality concerns. Another quarter was caused by increased sales of SUVs, which are often heavier and have much worse aerodynamic profiles than smaller cars. Increased fuel use by SUVs was the second largest contributor to the increase in global CO2 emissions from 2010 to 2018, according to the International Energy Agency.

Read more: The Guardian

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