The European Commission drafted the European automobile industry into the fight against climate change on Wednesday, calling for a new car emissions to be slashed by a quarter over five years.

But the plans met with quick criticism from environmentalists for not being tough enough and from carmakers claiming they put an unfair burden on the industry that could cost jobs in Europe.

Under a commission proposal unveiled Wednesday, new passenger cars would be required to emit on average no more than 120 grammes per kilometre travelled as of 2012, which would represent a cut of about 25 percent from current levels.

Auto makers would be required to limit average emissions across their fleet to 130 grammes per kilometer by improving the technology they use. A further 10 grammes would be cut through requirements on tyre, equipment and fuel makers to improve air-conditioning efficiency, tyre pressure monitoring and gear shift indicators while increasing the use of biofuels and other measures.

The European Union's executive arm is aiming to present by the end of the year formal legislation that will then have to be approved by EU governments and the European Parliament.

"Clearly the European auto industry faces a major challenge and I would urgently advise them to face up to the challenge," EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen told journalists.

"I know that European industry can meet that challenge." With carmakers failing to meet existing voluntary targets, the commission decided binding limits were needed, but Verheugen and Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas were divided over how much an effort should come from car makers.

Dimas sought a tough binding limit of 120 grammes for car makers while Verheugen wanted measures to be shared with tyre, equipment and fuel makers, easing the burden on the automobile industry, which he says employs 12 million people directly or indirectly in Europe.