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Europe Debating Stricter Car Emissions

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Car makers are facing newer and stricter emissions regulations all over the world. In Europe, the debate over proposals to curb carbon dioxide emissions for new cars is getting fiercer. This week six Greenpeace activist dressed up as Flintstones characters were arrested in Brussels, Belgium, as they were protesting about the influence of the car industry on the proposals. The European Parliament started debating legislation concerning CO2 emissions from cars on Wednesday. A vote on the legislation is coming up in the fall.

The activists, who claim that the car industry’s thinking is in “the stone age,” stopped at the car manufacturers’ lobby group, ACEA, and gave them copies of a Greenpeace report about the impact of car industry on climate change. On their way to the European Parliament, they were stopped by the police, but later released without charge, Greenpeace reports.

Most recently the European Parliament has proposed to cut average carbon emissions from new cars to almost half their current level by 2020, reports the Financial Times. Under proposed legislation the average new car sold in the EU could only emit 95g of carbon per kilometer, down from the current 160g/km regulation.

The makers of Europe’s larger cars, notably Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes, have been lobbying for a size-based emissions regulation scheme to encourage bigger but lighter cars. Meanwhile, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has spoken out against this weight-rated system, saying it penalizes the little guy. Still, the new proposal is very ambitious. Currently, only the likes of Daimler’s tiny Smart, which emits 88g/km, can meet the tough new proposed regulations.

In the U.S., California continues its own battle to enforce regulations for tougher emissions standards on cars. Yesterday it came out that the White House played a “pivotal” role in the EPA’s decision to deny California a waiver to enforce its own regulations. California has been trying to force car makers to abide by a state law, which would require a 30 percent reduction of emissions by 2016, and is currently embroiled in an investigation and a lawsuit with the EPA.