The price of every new car sold in Britain could soar by more than �1,600 under new laws to be proposed by the European commission to tackle climate change.

Stavros Dimas, the European environment commissioner, yesterday announced plans for compulsory limits on carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles, blaming motor manufacturers for failing to comply with a voluntary pledge to improve fuel efficiency.

"The technology is there to do this, but it has not been done as promised by the voluntary agreement. They [the manufacturers] know the situation better than anyone else because they gave an undertaking to bring down carbon dioxide," he said.