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EU presses carmakers to accelerate emissions cuts

The European Union told carmakers including Volkswagen AG, Toyota Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co. to step up voluntary reductions in carbon-dioxide emissions or face possible mandatory targets. The EU said European, Japanese and South Korean auto manufacturers risk missing their goal of cutting carbon-dioxide pollution in Western Europe by 25% in 2008-09 compared with 1995. The bloc said emissions from new cars in 2004 were about 13% below the 1995 level. „New efforts are needed by the industry,” Gregor Kreuzhuber, a spokesman for the European Commission, the EU's executive arm in Brussels, told reporters. „We won't hesitate to replace the carrot with the stick.” Cars account for more than a tenth of the EU's emissions of carbon dioxide, the main gas blamed for global warming. The EU relies on accords with European, Japanese and Korean automakers to cut emissions in Western Europe to 140 grams of carbon dioxide a kilometer in 2008-09. In Western Europe in 2004, emissions from new cars averaged 161 grams of carbon dioxide a kilometer for European automakers, 168 grams for Korean manufacturers and 170 grams for Japanese companies, the commission said in an annual report on the subject. Under the EU agreements, the 140-gram target is supposed to be reached by European manufacturers in 2008 and Japanese and Korean producers the following year.

The latest figures „are to a certain extent worrying,” Kreuzhuber said. „The efforts which have been made so far are not satisfactory.” The commission is reviewing ways of curbing carbon-dioxide emissions from cars and plans to publish a report for lawmakers on possible measures by the end of the year. The EU also relies on fuel-efficient car labeling and tax breaks to cut auto emissions of carbon dioxide. A European auto-industry group called for more fiscal incentives. „There is now a need to link the taxation of cars and of alternative fuels more vigorously to carbon-dioxide emissions,” Ivan Hodac, secretary general of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association in Brussels, said in a statement. „This will be an effective strategy.” The EU is aiming to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 8% in 2008-2012 compared with 1990 under the global Kyoto Protocol. As part of that goal, the 25-nation bloc plans to extend to airlines a system of caps on factory and power-plant emissions and says carmakers should aim to cut carbon-dioxide releases to 120 grams a kilometer in 2012. (Bloomberg)