Italy resists European carbon plan

Standing by its small-car makers, Italy has refused to join France, Germany and Britain in a European Union deal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to fight global warming, Reuters reported. Italy made clear in October that it would back the overall EU plan only if it was satisfied with its provisions on cars.


The deal would involve steep fines for car makers that failed to comply with new emissions standards, which Italy says would damage its automotive industry. Italy is unhappy that smaller cars, such as its Fiat, have been set more ambitious targets than bigger cars.


EU ambassadors agreed to phase in emission curbs to 2015, allowing negotiations with the European Parliament to begin on a final accord. Some worry that Italy may put the agreement – backed by car makers France, Germany and Britain – in jeopardy by refusing to accept the large fines to be levied on non-compliant manufacturers.


As part of its larger climate goals, the EU executive has proposed cutting CO2 output from cars by 18%, to 130 grams per kilometre by 2012, and to impose steep penalties on offenders. However, Italy is displeased that more-stringent targets were set for smaller vehicles. Fiat, for example, might have to cut to 122 grams, while Germany’s larger BMW would have to cut to only 137 grams.


According to a draft document seen by Reuters, France now has proposed a graded system of fines, to appease Italy by imposing lesser punishments on auto makers that narrowly miss their targets. While Italy noted “a step in the right direction”, the agreement is still expected to face difficulty in winning approval from the European Parliament, which has called for even deeper CO2 cuts than member states want.


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