The Association of European Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA) reacts angrily to a Commission threat to impose legislation as industry fails to deliver promised CO2 cuts.

European carmakers representative ACEA hit back at the Commission in a 5 November 2006 press release, after a spokeswoman for Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas confirmed that the EU executive will push for new legislation in December, when it reports on industry efforts to achieve average CO2 emissions for new cars of 140 grams/km by 2008.

Cutting vehicle emissions is a key part of the EU's strategy for reducing greenhouse gases under the Kyoto Protocol, but the Commission said that the current system of voluntary commitments, agreed to by European as well as Japanese and Korean car manufacturers, in 1998, has not delivered what was expected. The voluntary commitments have already come under fire from environmental pressure groups, such as the European Federation for Transport and the Environment (T&E) as progress has slowed. According to T&E: "Europe must kiss its voluntary targets goodbye and waste no more time in coming up with legally binding measures."

However, ACEA retorted that the target should, if anything, be eased, as strict EU legislation on car safety (eg requirements for air bags and strengthened bodies) has forced cars to become heavier and less fuel-efficient. ACEA Secretary-General Ivan Hodac said: "The problem of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions cannot be solved by targeting car manufacturers alone.” According to ACEA, an “integrated approach” is needed, including CO2-related taxation of cars, tax incentives to encourage consumers to buy more eco-friendly models, increased investments in alternative fuels and teaching drivers to change their behaviour.