A consultation on European Commission proposals to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from new cars has been announced by the Government.
The EC wants a target of 130g of CO2 per kilometre by 2012, but the UK is urging the commission to adopt a longer-term target of 100g.
Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly said the 100g figure "has the potential to deliver a cut in CO2 emissions from new cars of about 40% over the next 12 years".
She added that by 2020 it could reduce the running costs for consumers buying new cars by about £500 a year - "a particularly important consideration at a time of rising oil prices".
She said the EC 130g target by 2012 was expected to deliver annual CO2 savings of just over six million tonnes a year in the UK by 2020. Achieving the UK-proposed target of 100 grammes of CO2 per kilometre by 2020 would save an additional five million tonnes of CO2 by 2020. In total, this is equivalent to about a third of the total projected CO2 savings from domestic transport, or around 2% of the UK's current overall CO2 emissions.
Ms Kelly said: "The UK strongly supports a move to mandatory CO2 targets for new cars; this would be better for the environment and better for consumers."
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