AUSTRALIA: Car industry moves to cut fuel consumption, 'greenhouse gas' emissions
Australia's car industry unveiled plans on Tuesday to reduce fuel consumption of new passenger cars by about 18% by 2010 to help cut emissions of carbon dioxide blamed for global warming, Reuters reported.
According to the news agency, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries said a voluntary code of practice set a target to cut the amount of fuel used by new cars to 6.8 litres per 100 km (68 miles) by 2010 from the 2001 level of 8.28 litres.
"To achieve the new target, we will need to introduce sophisticated new engine and fuel system technologies to many of the vehicles sold in Australia," the chamber's chief executive Peter Sturrock said in a statement, Reuters added.
According to Reuters, Sturrock said additional research was needed by 2004 to expand the industry's efforts to develop targets to cut carbon dioxide emissions from other categories of light vehicles, including four wheel drives [SUVs] and light commercial vehicles [vans and pickups].
Australia is home to four major car makers, Reuters said, and all are units of overseas companies: Holden, the Australian arm of General Motors, Ford, Toyota and Mitsubishi Motors.
All four also build vehicles for export, including, in the case of Holden, Toyota and Mitsubishi, left-hand drive models for the Middle East. Holden also ships to South America and will soon start exporting a new GTO coupe to GMís Pontiac division. Mitsubishi also builds cars for the US.
Reuters noted that Holdenís and Fordís US parent companies have resisted attempts at home to impose higher fuel efficiency targets, saying they could result in weaker bodies or chassis frames that, in the case of accidents, could prove more dangerous to their passengers.
Reuters said the transport sector accounts for almost 20% of Australia's total emissions of so-called greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and that the Australian government welcomed the move.
"The new voluntary code of practice will lead to a reduction of up to two million tonnes of greenhouse gases by 2010," environment minister David Kemp said in a statement, according to Reuters.
A spokeswoman for the Australian Greenhouse Office told Reuters that Australia produced about 553 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2000.
Reuters added that Australia is one of the world's top coal exporters and has refused to ratify the global Kyoto treaty on combating climate change, under which industrialised nations must cut emissions by an average 5% by 2012 from 1990 levels.
The federal government in Canberra argues Kyoto is unviable without the United States, the world's biggest polluter, which has rejected the accord, Reuters said.
However, the news agency added, the conservative government has repeatedly stressed that it will still abide by its Kyoto target to limit the increase in greenhouse gas emissions to 8% by 2012.
According to Reuters, environmental groups say official statistics show Australia's carbon dioxide emissions have already risen by 17.4% since 1990 and will have risen by 30% by 2012.