The CO2 output of new cars fell by a record margin in 2008, official figures show.
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The average new car now emits just 158g/km of the greenhouse gas, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said – 4.2% less than in 2007.
Improvements in technology, increased consumer awareness and a new car tax system that penalises the worst polluters are all thought to have helped slash average new-car emissions from the 1997 base level of 189.8g/km.
Total CO2 emissions
According to the SMMT, cars now account for just 11.5% of the country’s total CO2 emissions. But for carmakers to meet new European emissions targets – which say average fleet emissions should not exceed 130g/km by 2015 – an annual improvement of 2.5% is needed.
SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said: ‘The motor industry has made enormous progress in its work to cut the environmental impact of its products but more must be done if the tough targets set by European legislation are to be met.
‘We urge government to implement a scrappage incentive scheme to take older, high-emitting cars off the road and boost the new car market.’
David Powell, transport campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: ‘The reported fall in carbon emissions emitted by new cars is painfully slow progress.
‘The motor industry must build its future on producing smarter cars that use far less fuel and play its part in cutting emissions.’
There are now 236 models emitting less than 130g/km on the UK market, including popular cars like the new Ford Fiesta Econetic, the Toyota iQ and VW’s Polo BlueMotion.
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