EU to Put New Limits on Carbon Emissions from Cars
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
The European Union has an ambitious green agenda. Today, officials unveil new limits on carbon dioxide emissions from cars, and penalties for carmakers who don't meet them. But the plan has met with a surprising amount of pushback, and the deal was in flux until the last minute.
From Brussels, Teri Schultz reports.
TERI SCHULTZ: The French and Italians versus the Germans and Swedes - no, it's not the European Union Olympic team. It's the battle over new regulations on CO2 emissions.
Enterprise and Industry Commissioner Gunter Verheugen is German, and has been perceived to be defending the interests of his nation's luxury car manufacturers who want bigger allowances for heavy cars that emit more carbon dioxide.
French and Italian carmakers specialize in lighter fuel-efficient models, so they want the bigger polluters to pay more, closer to the views of Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, who is Greek.
Critics say any compromises the commission makes for the auto industry weaken the ambitious EU plan for dramatic carbon emission cuts by 2012.
Aat Peterse of the European Federation for Transport and Environment fears modest penalties won't be enough to keep carmakers from just a buying their way out of the problem.
Mr. AAT PETERSE (Policy Officer, European Federation for Transport and Environment): After all these high and lofty words uttered by all these European leaders after Bali, and here's their first test on important industrial sector. And what do they show? Nothing.
SCHULTZ: One Brussels car salesman says the EU's whole strategy is wrong. Mark Budar(ph), who sells VWs here, says rather than hit manufacturers, the EU should reward agreeing buyers.
Mr. MARK BUDAR (Car Salesman): As long as the final consumer doesn't get any advantage - and we're talking about a financial advantage - you won't feel any difference.
KELEMEN: Budar gestures to his showroom to make his point. He's sold out a VW's most eco-friendly model. Every buyer got a 15 percent rebate, courtesy of the Belgian government.
For NPR News, I'm Teri Schultz in Brussels.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.