Europe’s car-makers were accused today of breaking their pledges on tackling climate change.
Manufacturers are falling far behind agreed targets for cutting exhaust emissions, according to the European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E).
Now T&E wants the voluntary deal reached between the European Union and the car industry to be replaced by legislation.
It said new figures published today make clear that improvements in car engine fuel efficiency last year were only one third of the rate needed to meet the commitments made in 1998.
The European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) promised the European Commission then that it would bring down average CO2 emissions from new cars to 140 grams per kilometre (g/km) by 2008 – down from 186 g/km in 1995.
But the latest figures show that last year European manufacturers sold cars that produce on average 160 g/km – which is a reduction of only 1% on the previous year.
The figures were published by RL Polk Marketing, which specialises in collecting and analysing car market data.
They reveal that, if car-makers are to meet their climate change pledges on time, they will have to cut CO2 emissions at the unprecedented rate of 4.3% for the next three years.
So far the best single-year improvement has been 2.9%, recorded in 2000.
T&E Director Jos Dings commented: “President Barroso’s Commission has sat back and watched while car-makers put all their technology into making cars heavier and more powerful, rather than more fuel efficient”.
“President Barroso, himself the owner of a gas-guzzling Volkswagen Touareg, must recognise that a voluntary commitment from an industry that is responsible for 15% of CO2 emissions in the EU is not enough and is failing miserably. Legislation is urgently needed if real progress is to be achieved”.
T&E says further improvements in fuel efficiency – the key to cutting CO2 emissions – would not be expensive and could be made with widely-available existing technology.
Mr Dings added: “Rules that make cars more fuel efficient save lots of money and save the climate. It’s time President Barroso parked his gas-guzzler and got Europe’s car-makers on the road to fuel efficiency.”