Brussels - Carmakers will be allowed to team up and form pools to spread the burden of meeting tough new limits on carbon dioxide emissions in the European Union, a draft EU document obtained by Reuters showed.
The European Commission intends to publish legislation next week laying out how ambitious targets to reduce emissions of the main gas blamed for global warming will be distributed among makers of light and heavy cars.
The rules would require average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new cars across the European fleet to come in at 120 grams per kilometre by 2012.
Carmakers would be required to achieve 130 grams per kilometre through engine technology alone, while use of biofuels and other measures would help achieve the overall 120 grams per kilometre target.
The proposals have sparked tension between makers of lighter cars with lower emissions and heavier cars with higher emissions. One of the outstanding issues, to be decided next week, involves how to distribute the burden among them.
A copy of the draft directive did not spell out how that would happen. But in a nod to calls for a type of emissions trading system among manufacturers, it said companies could team up to meet those goals.
“In order to provide flexibility for manufacturers, manufacturers may agree to form a pool on an open, transparent and non-discriminatory basis for the purposes of meeting their targets under this proposal,” the draft said.
“Where manufacturers form a pool, (they) should be deemed to have met their targets under this regulation provided that the average emissions of the pool as a whole do not exceed the target emissions for the pool.”
The draft did not go into further detail about how a target for a pool would be set. It said companies in a pool would be treated “as if they were one manufacturer for the purposes of this regulation”.
It said targets should encourage reductions from all carmakers while recognising that bigger cuts could be made from heavy cars.
Special purpose vehicles, such as those built to accommodate wheelchairs for disabled people, would be excluded from the rules.
The draft said companies would not be required to bring each car’s emissions down to the prescribed limit but “should be allowed to average emissions over their new car fleet rather than having to respect CO2 targets for each individual car”.
It said there would be a “specialist derogation” for independent manufacturers with only a small volume of cars.
The text did not specify a figure on how steep a penalty would be imposed on manufacturers that missed the target. But it did say fines would increase over time.
The draft legislation, prepared after carmakers made slow progress on a voluntary goal, is part of EU efforts to fight climate change and meet commitments to cut emissions under the Kyoto Protocol.