Environmentalists have slammed European Commission proposals to make cars greener as being ‘far too weak’.
The new proposals state that average CO2 emissions from new passenger cars should not exceed 120 grams per kilometre by 2012.
The commission said that manufacturers would be responsible only for reducing emissions to 130g through engine technical improvements.
The other 10g saving will come from ‘other technological improvements’ such as better tyres with less rolling resistance and by increased use of bio-fuels.
The plan is already unpopular with the car industry. EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas has acknowledged the regulations could add some £900 to the price of cars but said that would be balanced by fuel savings of £1,900 for drivers over the life of their car.
A commission statement said: ‘Cars are an important part of the everyday lives of a large number of Europeans.
‘However, car use has significant impacts on climate change insofar as it accounts for 12% of the overall EU emissions of carbon dioxide.
‘Consequently, the EU has committed itself to ambitious greenhouse gas reduction and energy efficiency improvement targets to which all relevant sectors of the economy should contribute.’
But Friends of the Earth’s transport campaigner, Tony Bosworth, said: ‘We were hoping for tough action on greener cars from Europe this Christmas, but all we have got is the same old fudge.’
He added: ‘Our politicians must put the safety of the planet and its people first and stand up to the self-interested lobbying of an industry that has not done enough to tackle its environmental impact.’
The European Automobile Manufacturers Association said the proposals would put car manufacturing in the EU at risk.
It added that the penalties that would be imposed on car makers for not hitting the targets were at an ‘unprecedented high level’.