Cleaner cars

Carbon dioxide emissions from new cars dropped at their fastest-ever rate in 2008, according to the latest figures by the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders.


CO2 emissions from new cars dropped at their fastest-ever rate in 2008, according to the latest figures by the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).


The SMMT’s annual New Car CO2 report said that, despite an increase in the number of cars and the length of distance travelled, the average vehicle now emits 4.2 per cent less CO2 than the base level in 2007 and 16.8 per cent less than the level in 1997.


The report claims that the introduction of technology, increased consumer awareness and changes to vehicle taxation have helped reduce car emissions across all market segments. Cars now account for just 11.5 per cent of the country’s total CO2 output, with the larger end of the market making some of the biggest improvements.


The introduction of government regulation in December last year set a target for vehicle manufacturers to maintain average emission levels at less than 130g/km by 2015. Currently, there are 236 models in the UK emitting less than 130g/km. However, additional improvements of 2.5 per cent per year are needed if this target is to be met.


Paul Everitt, the SMMT’s chief executive, said: ‘The motor industry has made enormous progress in its work to cut the environmental impact of its products but more must be done if the tough targets set by European legislation are to be met.


‘Maintaining a steady rate of fleet renewal is vital to this success so the recent fall in new car registrations presents more than an economic challenge. Again, we urge government to implement a scrappage incentive scheme to take older, high-emitting cars off the road and boost the new car market.’


Commenting on the SMMT’s report, David Powell, Friends of the Earth‘s transport campaigner, said: ‘The reported fall in carbon emissions emitted by new cars is a painfully slow progress. The motor industry must build its future on producing smarter cars that use far less fuel and play its part in cutting emissions.


‘Manufacturers have already been let off by weak EU [European Union] targets for cutting emissions from new cars – the UK government must introduce measures to ensure that car makers fast-track the production of greener vehicles.’