EU reports biggest ever fall in car emissions in 2009

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Average carbon dioxide emissions from new cars sold in the European Union dropped by 5 percent last year, the biggest annual fall ever recorded, European climate chief Connie Hedegaard said on Wednesday.

The EU, home to 500 million people, has set a target for cutting average emissions from new cars to 130 grams of CO2 per km by 2015.

“The latest data shows ... that the car industry is on track to achieve the 2015 target and most likely several major manufacturers will be able to do so well in advance,” said Hedegaard, the EU commissioner in charge of climate action.

Emissions dropped due to a combination of the economic crisis, the scrappage schemes that some governments introduced to boost buying of new cars and a shift in buying patterns to favor greener vehicles, she added in a statement.

The findings mirror a report last week by green transport campaign group T&E, which also found Japanese carmakers making the fastest progress in the quest to hit the EU targets.

T&E analyzed official EU data to show Toyota Motor Co had reduced the average carbon dioxide from its cars by 10 percent in 2009, more than five times the pace achieved last year by the previous leader, Germany’s BMW.

Suzuki Motor Corp made the second biggest emissions cuts last year at 9.1 percent, followed by Mazda Motor Corp with 5.4 percent.

Toyota’s average CO2 emissions in 2009 were 132 grams per km, putting it alongside Peugeot Citroen and Fiat SpA

as one of the carmakers best-placed for complying with the EU’s 2015 goal.

Reporting by Pete Harrison; Editing by Rex Merrifield and David Holmes