EU May Need Legislation To Force Carmakers To Cut Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Voluntary commitments might not reach 140 grams of carbon dioxide emissions by 2008.

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) – The European Union (EU) may need new rules to force carmakers to cut carbon dioxide because they are unlikely to meet their own voluntary targets, an EU spokeswoman said Friday.

The European Commission will push for new legislation when it reports in December on industry efforts to achieve average emissions for new European cars of 140 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer by 2008, spokeswoman Mireille Thom said. Japanese and Korean manufacturers also agreed to meet the same target by 2009.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas is proposing the legislation ''because the reports seem to indicate that the voluntary commitments may not be delivering what was expected,'' Thom said.

In 2004, new European cars had an average of 161 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer, while Korean automakers registered 168 grams per kilometer and Japanese 170 grams per kilometer.

Cuts in vehicle emissions are a key part of the EU's strategy for cutting so-called greenhouse gases under the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

To meet its target to reduce car fumes a quarter below 1995 levels, the industry will need to introduce cuts of more than 3 percent a year with immediate effect, the Commission said in August.

The EU wants to further reduce average car emissions to 120 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer by 2012. This is not binding on car makers, nor have they agreed to it.

Data shows that, although the emissions per car per kilometer have fallen, the overall level of carbon dioxide emissions from road transport has risen 22 percent since 1990 as the number of cars on the road rises and drivers travel greater distances.

Carbon dioxide emissions from both cars and airlines are growing and jeopardize the EU's commitment under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions by 8 percent from 1990 levels by 2012.

Transport made up 28 percent of Europe's carbon dioxide emissions in 2004, the European Environment Agency said. Half of that comes from passenger cars and vans.

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