From: Raf Casert, Associated Press
Published February 1, 2007 12:00 AM

EU Wants Cleaner Fuel to Combat Climate Change

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The European Commission on Wednesday proposed requirements to make fuel for transport vehicles cleaner as of 2011 to cut emissions of gasses that contribute to global warming.

Under the plan, fuel suppliers would have to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 1 percent as of 2011 and achieve a 10 percent overall cut by 2020.

"It will further underpin Europe's shift towards the low-carbon economy that is essential if we are to prevent climate change from reaching dangerous proportions," said EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas.

The proposal, which must be approved by the EU's 27 member nations, was criticized by the Greens group in the European Parliament as insufficient.

"Focusing on fuel quality alone to address emissions from road transport is like trying to quench a forest fire with a water pistol," said Green energy spokesman Claude Turmes.

"By placing a disproportionate emphasis on fuel quality, the Commission is diverting attention from the real problem -- the cars that use the fuel," he said.

The EU executive office has postponed a decision on forcing car makers to cut cars' carbon dioxide emissions because German automakers said mandatory limits would force them to cut jobs.

The auto industry is likely to miss a voluntary target to cut average CO2 emissions for new cars, and the European Commission has threatened to draft rules that would set a legally binding limit of 120 grams of CO2 per kilometer by 2012.

The car industry and the EU executive agreed to cut emissions from new cars to 140 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer by 2008. A year before that midterm target, the current average is around 163 grams.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday pledged to oppose a strict EU limit on car emissions, arguing that different models should face different caps.

The overall level of carbon dioxide emissions from road transport has risen 22 percent since 1990 as the number of vehicles on the road rises and drivers travel greater distances. Passenger cars and vans made up 14 percent of Europe's carbon dioxide emissions in 2004, the European Environment Agency said.

Car makers have cut emissions by nearly 13 percent, they say, but blame consumers for the missed targets, because they are not buying smaller cars or hybrid-fuel models in high enough numbers.

Source: Associated Press

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