Three years after vehicle-makers succeeded in weakening new European Union (EU) pollution standards for cars, many of the same firms are hoping to frustrate efforts to make vans more fuel-efficient
Under proposed new rules being discussed in Brussels, new vans on the market would not be allowed to emit more than 135 grams of heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometre (g/km) travelled by 2020. This would be 68g/km less than the amount of the greenhouse gas an average van on Europe's roads released in 2007.
Theoretically, these measures will reduce the contribution that transport makes to climate change. Whereas CO2 emissions from most other economic sectors are falling in the EU, that from transport rose by 36 percent in the 1990-2007 period. Vans comprise about 12 percent of the Union's light-duty vehicles, with their number increasing by 50 percent between 1997 and 2007.
Despite claiming to be committed to reducing its environmental impact, the vehicle industry has mounted a vigorous campaign against the proposed new standards. Sigrid de Vries, spokeswoman for the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (known by its French acronym ACEA) said that the 2020 target was "not feasible".
Green campaigners, though, consider the complaints made by industry as groundless. They say that some leading van manufacturers have already proven their ability to improve fuel efficiency when bringing new models onto the market. Volkswagen's latest range of T5 vans, for example, is 10 percent more sparing in the amount of fuel it burns up than the same vans were in 2007.
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