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How fast are emissions from cars dropping?

Car Emissions in UK

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “How fast are emissions from cars dropping?” was written by Simon Day, for guardian.co.uk on Thursday 19th April 2012 08.35 UTC

New cars on UK streets are cleaner than ever, according to data released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) this week. Average CO2 emissions for new cars sold in the UK in 2011 were 138.1g per km, a 4.2% decline from 2010, and a nearly 31% decline since 1997.

The continued reductions come as the first EU targets regulating new car emissions are introduced this year. It means 65% of a country’s new cars must have emissions less than 130g/km by the end of 2012.

The entire new car fleet must be under 130g/km by 2015 and less than 95g/km by 2020. In 2011 nearly half of the new cars sold in the UK met the 130g/km standard.

There was also record growth in sales of cars in the lowest emission bracket, including hybrid and electric vehicles. Cars producing less than 100g/km of CO2 accounted for 3.4% of the new sales, nearly twice the number of low emission cars sold in 2010, and four times more than in 2009.

But with such a small share of sales for hybrids and electric cars, the overall decrease in emissions is mostly attributable to technological developments in petrol and diesel cars.

The economic downturn’s impact on consumer buying has prevented further potential reductions in total CO2 emissions. Total sales of new cars in 2011 have continued to decline since the onset of the recession, down 4.4% from 2010 and 22% down on average sales between 2002 and 2007. While it might sound like a good thing environmentally that people are not buying more cars, a new car bought in the UK is now 18% more efficient than the average car in use.

The report urged the government to take a larger role in emission reductions through tax incentives, investment in innovative technologies, and promotion of CO2 efficient cars. The SMMT also appealed to the government to encourage R&D and production of ultra low carbon vehicles in the UK.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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