Europe set to clean up fuels but stalls on cars

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Europe has taken one step forward and one step back in the fight against global climate change today according to three leading environmental groups. BirdLife International, the European Environment Bureau (EEB) and Transport and Environment (T&E) have welcomed EU plans to introduce carbon reduction targets for transport fuels but slammed the failure to announce a legally-binding target for car fuel-efficiency following high-level intervention by the German car industry last week.

Reacting to the proposed new fuel standards Jos Dings director of T&E said:
"Until now Europe's approach to alternatives like biofuels has been to promote them regardless of whether or not they are good or bad for the environment. If it's designed right this commitment to reducing carbon emissions will ensure that only the cleanest biofuels are promoted and the production process of fossil fuels is cleaned up. That is a very good approach and we welcome it."

The new fuel standards were announced just three weeks after a similar plan was put forward by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in California.

The fuel announcement was set to be published in parallel with a communication on future legally-binding targets for car fuel efficiency. But those plans have been postponed for a third time following complaints from the German car industry, and intervention by European Enterprise Commissioner Guenter Verheugen.

"What we are seeing is mindless scaremongering from the German car industry" said Dings. "They are saying that makers of larger cars will have to close and thousands of jobs will be lost - it's absurd. The EU approach has always been that emissions should be cut across the whole fleet in order to reach an average target. The problem has been that most carmakers haven't cut emissions fast enough, and that's why regulation is now urgently needed. It is simply wrong that the Commission is preparing to water down an absolutely key element of Europe's climate policy on the basis of the misleading claims of one industry in one country."

Contacts:
Jos Dings, Director, Transport & Environment, +32 498 515319, jos.dings@transportenvironment.org
Ariel Brunner, BirdLife International, +32 2 280 0830, ariel.brunner@birdlifeeco.net
Pieter de Pous, European Environment Bureau, +32 2 289 1306, pieter.depous@eeb.org
Dudley Curtis, Communications Officer, Transport & Environment, +32 2 289 1042, dudley.curtis@transportenvironment.org

Further information:

31/01/07 - European Commission press release on new fuel standards:
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/120&type=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

10/01/07 - Transport & Environment press release on new Californian fuel standards:
http://www.transportenvironment.org/Article350.html

Transport & Environment background briefing on car fuel efficiency:
http://www.transportenvironment.org/Downloads-req-getit-lid-448.html

www.birdlife.org
www.eeb.org
www.transportenvironment.org