What Caused Major Drop In CO2 Emissions?

Tue 27th Apr 2021

Motoring analysts across Europe have been investigating a 12 per cent fall in carbon dioxide emissions in 2020, with the global pandemic thought to be at the heart of the spike.

While the CO2 emissions drop is encouraging when compared to 2019’s total figure, shockingly, the average CO2 emissions of 106.7g/km is still higher than the targets set by the EU.

A lack of cars on the roads was one of the biggest factors, with cleaner, more environmentally cars providing a boost also. The 106.7g/km average was the lowest in five years, when new cars averaged a CO2 output of 117.g/km in 2017.

While tougher government regulations ensure fewer emissions from more environmentally friendly vehicles, the impact of of the lockdown cannot be ignored, particularly as there were fewer opportunities to buy a new car.

The volume of internal combustion engines sold fell from 14.7 million units in 2019, to 8.6 million units in 2020. 

“In a year when millions of potential buyers weren't allowed to leave their homes, it's notable that total average emissions decreased by 15g/km. It signifies a fundamental change to our notion of mobility and a greater appetite for sustainable options,” said Felipe Munoz, from Jato, who did the analysis.

There was significant variants across brands in terms of CO2 output, with no surprise that Jaguar Land Rover and their big SUVs were one of the worst for CO2 output, averaging 147.9g/km. Lexus, Mazda and Toyota all averaged 97.5g/km, which is the best, but again short of the EU target of 96g/km.

Geographically, those countries which have better EV take-up performed best in terms of CO2 output, six countries, including Sweden which leads the way for electric vehicles, were all below 100g/km.