Recently the European Commission has been looking at making heretofore voluntary carbon dioxide emissions limits for automakers, mandatory. As might be expected, automakers are not thrilled by that prospect, and they are fighting back. Bernd Gottschalk, president of German automotive industry trade association Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA), is proposing that any CO2 restrictions should be tiered with different limits for different classes of vehicles. Gottschalk has been having discussions with EU officials and believes that the proposed 120g/km CO2 limit will be changed.

EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas started pushing the mandatory limit when it became clear that automakers were not on track to meet the voluntary limits in 2008. The problem with a tiered approach is that without an overall cap on total emissions, the smaller, more efficient vehicles already produce less emissions, and the larger heavier vehicles will likely still produce more. As a result, unless the limits for each vehicle class are reduced below their current levels, there may not be much actual improvement. On the other hand the 'integrated approach', proposed by the carmakers, does have some good points. Making cleaner fuels available, improving driving habits, and fiscal legislation to modify demand are all needed changes. As with CAFE in the United States, mandating efficiency only goes so far if the the products people want to buy are inherently less efficient. If the market demands more efficiency, the suppliers will produce it. So a solution that comprises aspects of both proposals would seem to be the best answer.

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