Commission dithers on gas-guzzling car laws

The European Commission must force carmakers to improve fuel efficiency in order to bring tailpipe CO2 emissions down by a quarter by 2012, environmental groups have said.

Proposals to ban the sale of the least efficient cars by 2012 were expected this Wednesday (see related story), after repeated threats that carmakers must either make good on their voluntary pledge to improve efficiency or face restrictive legislation.

Despite the Commission’s threats, carmakers had only improved average fuel efficiency by 1% between in 2004-5 bringing emissions to 160 g/km and remain far off their voluntary 2008 target of 140g/km.

After the Commission failed to bring in the expected proposals this week environmentalists have expressed fears over the survival of the ‘gas-guzzling car ban.’

European environmental NGOs warned that failure to act on past threats “would seriously undermine the credibility of the Commission.”

The coalition of ten NGOs urged the Commission to announce binding legislations bringing emissions down to 120g/km by 2012 by improving fuel efficiency – the only effective way of achieving this target, they said.

“Including road transport in the emissions trading system or biofuels are NOT alternatives for making cars more fuel-efficient.

“The target has always been just one element of a set of policies to reduce CO2 emissions from road transport.

“Hence, making alternative policies ‘count’ towards the 120 g/km target effectively weakens it,” said the group of NGOs, including Environment and Transport, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and WWF.

Goska Romanowicz

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