Brussels, 3 July 2008 - Green campaigners today urged the European Union to 'push for fuel efficiency' and agree tough targets for reducing the fuel consumption of cars.
As European officials come under mounting pressure from car manufacturers to weaken proposed legislation, Friends of the Earth Europe and other environment groups pushed vehicles around European capital cities and called on environment ministers meeting at the informal Environment and Energy Council in Paris to push ahead with targets to reduce the fuel consumption of new cars by 25 per cent by 2012.
Friends of the Earth Europe and other environmental groups push for new cars to produce no more than 120g CO2/km by 2012. (Photo credit: Stefan Vandermeulen/FoE Europe)
Jeroen Verhoeven, a car efficiency campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "Climate change and rising fuel prices are already hurting European citizens and making cars drastically more efficient is one of the most sensible solutions. Today carmakers are still competing on engine power. The EU needs to set the rules so that carmakers start racing towards greater fuel efficiency".
In Brussels, a symbolic 'race' for fuel efficiency was staged outside the European Parliament in which activists pushed a vehicle round a track, each lap representing a year between now and 2012 when rules governing new vehicles will come into force. Similar stunts were also staged in Berlin, Madrid and Paris.
The EU is discussing regulation to reduce the CO2 emissions of new cars by 25 per cent to 120g/km by 2012, but according to environmental organisations manufacturers are attempting to delay and weaken the targets. Friends of the Earth Europe points to the wealth of evidence that 120g CO2/km by 2012 is easily achievable, and that a majority of EU citizens would be prepared to pay more for a car which consumes less, although more efficient cars do not have to be more expensive. 
The organisation also points out that manufacturers' marketing practices promote more powerful and higher emitting vehicles when more efficient alternatives are available. If all cars met the standard of the most fuel efficient models in their class already on the market, the proposed 2012 target could be reached today. 
As part of their campaign for strong EU legislation, and to increase consumer demand for fuel efficient cars, environment groups have launched a fictional brand, 'Mundo cars'. They intend to use 'Mundo cars' to offer an alternative vision of cars. 
"It is customary for real life carmakers to offer politicians gifts. With Mundo cars we believe we can do better, we offer politicians the chance to drive the future and drive down emissions," said Mr Verhoeven.
 EU Barometer 2007
 The King review for low carbon cars part II: a 25% reduction of average CO2 emissions from new cars can be reached with existing best practice in every class of cars
 For more information see www.mundo-cars.eu