Environment campaigners say car manufacturers are reducing emissions from their vehicles at a better-than-expected pace, which could see them meet European Union targets ahead of schedule.
According to Transportation & Environment, CO2 emissions from cars sold across the EU in 2009 were on average 5.1% lower than from those sold the previous year.
It was the biggest annual reduction in a decade, the Brussels-based group said, adding that Japanese carmaker Toyota led the way last year with a 10% cut in emissions.
EU has set car makers a deadline of 2015 to lower average emissions from their fleet by 35% from 1995 levels.
It said the figures were not really a big surprise, since improvements in technology accounted for more than half the reduction.
The recession, along with car scrappage schemes introduced by several member nations, also contributed by boosting the demand for smaller and cheaper cars that tend to be more fuel efficient.
CO2, like other greenhouse gases, has been linked to global warming and the EU has committed itself to cut its total greenhouse gas emissions by at least 8% between 2008 and 2012.
The European Environment Agency estimates that cars are responsible for about 14% of the EU's total CO2 emissions.
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