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Brussels to take on auto industry with CO2 laws

brussels bureau

Brussels to take on auto industry with CO2 laws


Laws forcing carmakers to limit CO2 are set to be proposed at pan-European level. Today, the average from vehicles is around 160 grammes per kilometer. After much debate, the European Commission looks ready to ask for an overall cut in carbon dioxide emissions from new cars to 120 grammes per kilometer by 2012.

While the vehicle manufacturers would be required to attain the 130-gramme mark, additional cuts of five grammes per kilometer from both biofuel use and other technology, such as better tyre design, would further contribute.

This Wednesday, EU sources say the Commission will suggest its strategy be implemented through binding legislation. The proposal is part of EU efforts to fight climate change, with European carmakers falling short of targets which have been voluntary till now.

Ecologist expert Aat Peters argues for strict broad-ranging standards: “Every climate policy is a policy mix. So, there is technical innovation in cars, there is innovation in tyres, there is innovation in fuels, and many other aspects of policy like traffic management, etcetera. These are all elements which are important, but none of these elements should be exchanged for the other.”

The European Automobile Manufacturers Association says its members reduced CO2 emissions by 13 percent to in 2004, compared to 1995 levels. Yet environmentalists say carmakers should take more responsibility for the emissions from bigger, more fuel-consuming engines.

Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee of the current EU presiding nation, Germany, which makes mostly big cars, said: “What we need is a code of good conduct which takes into account the sections of the market, so that the makers of smaller cars don’t just sit back while those making the big ones bear the whole burden.”

Cars on the EU’s roads – their number increasing by some three million per year – create more than one-fifth of Europe’s greenhouse-gas emissions.

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