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June 21, 2005 2:31 PM

European Commission figures due to be released today are expected to reveal that greenhouse gas emissions have INCREASED across the EU by 1.3% over the past year.

Under the Kyoto agreement the EU is supposed to make an 8% reduction on 1990 levels by the 2008-12 period. Overall emissions are so far down marginally but the new figures suggest that the trend is in the opposite direction. Some member states have recorded spectacular increases in emissions.

The Commission is expected to confirm that UK emissions increased by 1.1% over the past year. Due to a reduction in coal use the UK has still reduced emissions by 13.3% since 1990 against a target of -12.5% but the situation is now worsening.

Chris Davies, leader of the British Liberal Democrat MEPs and the party's environment spokesman in the European Parliament, commented:

"These figures are very worrying and put in doubt the EU's commitment to fighting climate change. Instead of moving forward we seem to be stuck in reverse.

"Europe has given leadership to the world on this issue but a degree of complacency is now all too evident. EU heads of government need to stop wringing their hands and start making tough choices."

With emissions from transport a major contributory factor Mr Davies has called on Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas to introduce EU-wide legislation requiring car manufacturers to reduce greenhouse gases produced by new vehicles.

Last week Mr Dimas told the European Parliament's Environment Committee that he was watching closely to see if the motor manufacturing industry complied with a voluntary agreement to reduce such emissions to 140g per kilometre by 2008.

But in a letter to the commissioner Mr Davies has urged him to take a more proactive stance.

He writes:

"Carbon dioxide emission levels from new vehicles average 164g/km and have scarcely fallen since 2000. On current trends the target is unlikely to be reached within three years.

"The introduction of a target of 120g/km by 2012 is still feasible without imposing undue expense upon either manufacturers or consumers. With every month's delay it will become more difficult to achieve. A binding legislative requirement needs to be placed upon the industry without delay."