New targets for cutting car emissions have been announced today, but they could still face stiff opposition from car manufacturers.
The European Commission wants car manufacturers to cut average new car emissions of carbon dioxide to 130g/km by 2012, 18% lower than 2005 levels.
Originally, the commission wanted manufacturers to be wholly responsible for a 25% cut in emissions to 120g/km, but the new proposals published today aim to achieve the remaining 10g/km reduction through greater use of other technology such as bio-fuels and improved tyres.
Even the easier target could be strongly opposed by large sections of the car industry. Audi, BMW and Volkswagen have written to the commission outlining their opposition to the original plans, saying the intervention would put added financial strain on the industry. German chancellor Angela Merkel also vowed to block the proposals.
The European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) says new car technology is an inefficient way to reduce emissions, saying cutting congestion and improving public transport gives far greater results.
It also says that demand for cars with low carbon dioxide emission amongst motorists is poor, a feeling echoed by the UK's Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). It says new car technology can only achieve so much without more clean-car purchases from motorists.
Car manufacturers set a voluntary target of 140g/km by 2008, but it is highly unlikely that this can be achieved, even if individual manufacturers like Fiat have already achieved it. Recent figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed that between 2005 and 2006, average new car emissions only fell to 167.2g/km.
This 1.3% drop leaves the UK above the European average for 2005, and the industry well short of the 2008 and 2012 targets.
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