MEPs stand up for fuel-efficient cars

Despite enormous pressure from the car industry and car producing countries, the European Parliament has stood firm on plans to reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions from new cars.

In a critical vote this morning, the parliament's environment committee pledged overwhelming support for a European Commission proposal that the average new car should emit no more than 130 grammes of carbon dioxide per kilometer by 2012. MEPs also demanded a longer term target for 2020.

An earlier vote by the parliament's industry committee had called for a postponement and weakening of the short-term target to 2015. That was completely rejected.

MEPs have also demanded a long-term target, of 95 g/km by 2020, though that target will be subject to a review in 2014 which creates a degree of uncertainty over its effect.

The Parliament also backed penalties for carmakers who fail to comply with the new targets, again agreeing with the Commission that penalties should rise to €95 per gramme of CO2 exceeded.

Jos Dings, director of T&E said:
"The Parliament appears to have stood up to the demands of the car industry and four or five car producing member states and has sent a strong signal that Europeans need fuel efficient cars now, not in five or ten years time. The short-term target is achievable with currently available technology. The long term target agreed today should send the message to the car industry that it needs to change its ways and put all its efforts into developing the next generation of fuel efficient cars."

An expected compromise agreement negotiated and widely reported in the media earlier this week was thrown out. That package contained a number of loopholes, including the postponement of the 2012 target. But that proposal was thrown out and MEPs instead voted individually on hundreds of individual amendments. For that reason the precise details of everything that has been agreed will require further analysis.

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