The European Commission has warned car makers that they need to do more to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of the vehicles they produce, or they risk EU-wide legislation being drafted.
The commission announced that CO2 emissions from cars have fallen 12.4 per cent since 1995, but said this was not enough if the industry is going to hit its target of a 25 per cent reduction by 2008/9.
Commission vice president and commissioner for enterprise and industry Günter Verheugen said while car manufacturers have made continuous and substantial progress since 1995 "the situation is not satisfactory. I urge industry to step up their efforts. We expect that industry sticks to its commitments".
The commission refused to rule out bringing in legislation that would force manufacturers to hit the targets if the situation did not improve.
Under the terms of the voluntary agreement, European manufacturers have to produce cars with an average fuel efficiency of 140g/km of CO2 by 2008. The Japanese and Korean manufacturers have until 2009.
Voluntary targets for manufacturers are one of three prongs on the EU strategy for dealing with vehicle emissions, as part of its work towards targets set out in the Kyoto protocol. This requires the 15 "old" EU countries to reduce their CO2 emissions to eight per cent below the levels in 1990*.
The other two prongs are better information for consumers about the fuel efficiency of the car they buy, and financial incentives to choose low emission cars. ®
*See hell, snowflake's chance