London, England – Britain’s Transport Secretary, Ruth Kelly, has launched a consultation on European Commission proposals to introduce compulsory carbon dioxide (CO2) targets for new cars. The proposals will reduce carbon emissions, make cars more fuel efficient and cut the running costs of new vehicles. The proposed target is 130 g/km by 2012 as the fleet average for each car manufacturer; the U.K. government is also urging the European Union (EU) to adopt a longer-term target of 100 g/km by 2020, which would cut emissions by an extra five million tonnes a year and reduce running costs on new cars by about £500 a year.

The U.K. government also wants to avoid the regulation creating competitive imbalance between different types of car manufacturers, and said it welcomes provisions in the EU proposals for setting different targets for manufacturers producing small numbers of cars. The U.K. is also urging a provision in the regulation for niche manufacturers who produce a narrow range of cars.

“Tackling climate change is one of the single most important issues we face,” Kelly said. ‘Harmful road transport emissions continue to rise and it is important we act now to reduce them. That is why we support this move to introduce mandatory CO2 targets for new cars and are taking the lead in urging the adoption of a tougher target from 2020. This has the potential for being the biggest CO2 saving measure in transport.”

Voluntary CO2 agreements were negotiated between the car industry and the EU, setting an average target for new cars of 140g/km by 2008 for the European car industry and 2009 for the Korean and Japanese car industries, a 25 per cent reduction from 1995 levels. When it became clear that agreements would not be met, the European Commission published proposals for a regulation on the CO2 emissions of new cars in December 2007. The regulation aims to achieve a Europe-wide reduction in the average CO2 emissions of new cars by setting mandatory targets for individual car manufacturers.

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