Emissions aren’t our fault – car manufacturers

A coalition of Europe's car manufacturers have hit back at criticism that they are not doing enough to tackle carbon emissions and the release of polluting gases, arguing that they are only responding to customer demands.

As things stand, all major companies with EU-based operations have signed up to a voluntary agreement which expects them to bring down the CO2 emissions of cars which roll off their production lines.

The latest figures, from 2004, show the industry way of target with average emissions of new vehicles at 161mg per kilometre, when they should be aiming for 140mg by 2008 and 120 mg by 2012.

In an interview with Brussels-based paper European Voice on Friday, Stavros Dimas, the EC’s Environment Commissioner, said the agreement was not working and it was time to introduce legislation forcing the manufacturers to act.

But the Association of European Car Manufacturers (ACEA), which represents all major manufacturers in EU, has defended its members’ records, arguing that the problem cannot be tackled by targeting industry alone an more needs to be done to inform consumer choices.

The rise in popularity of the SUV, despite well publicised environmental concerns, and a lack of interest in extremely fuel efficient cars have been pointed to by the trade association as the cause of the slow down in efforts to combat CO2 from private vehicles.

“The car industry recognises the decrease in CO2 emissions has recently slowed,” said an ACEA statement released in response to the Commissioner’s comments.

“This is due to strong customer demand for larger and safer vehicles and disappointing consumer acceptance of extremely fuel-efficient cars, which have been brought into the market in line with the CO2 Commitment.”

It said the pressures on the industry from EC regulations in the area of safety and air pollution also made it difficult to focus more fully on CO2 targets.

The association also argued it was necessary for more to be done by legislators to make fuel efficient vehicles more attractive to would-be consumers.

“The problem of reducing greenhouse gas emissions beyond the existing CO2 commitment is complex and can’t be solved by targeting the car manufacturers alone,” said the statement.

It said that alongside industry moves to adjust its infrastructure and develop more efficient vehicles, there had to be action to increase the availability of alternative fuels, influence driver behaviour and boost demand for efficient vehicles by linking taxation more closely to CO2 emissions.

Sam Bond

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