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Germany, EU reach compromise over vehicle carbon emissions

Following months of delays by Germany, the European Union has reached an agreement on carbon emissions restrictions for new cars. Manufacturers will have more time to meet the rules.

Efforts to curb carbon dioxide emissions from Europe's vehicles were revived on Friday following months of delays, as European Union diplomats announced they had unanimously reached an agreement for tough carbon dioxide emissions rules for new cars.

Progress on the plans was stalled by Germany when it put the brakes on the measures in June.

Berlin had expressed concerns that an EU plan to limit car exhaust emissions to 95 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer (95g/km) for all new cars by 2020 would harm Germany's dominant automobile industry. It pushed for manufacturers to be granted four more years to reach that limit.

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose Christian Democrats party received money from carmaker BMW, came under pressure for taking up the cause of the large German auto manufacturers, saying that she was protecting German jobs.

Carbon compromise

Under the compromise deal, which is expected to be endorsed by the European Parliament in January, the 95g/km limit would apply from 2021, with 95 percent of new cars still needing to meet the limit by 2020.

It also includes the introduction of so-called "supercredits" which would enable makers of gas-guzzling cars to remain within the EU targets if they also included hybrid or electric vehicles in their product ranges. This would benefit German luxury car makers like Daimler and BMW.

Spokesman for the German government Georg Streiter said the deal provided "a more flexible arrangement with added innovation incentives."

'Better late than never'

EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard took to social networking platform Twitter to show her support for the deal "Too much watering-down avoided," she wrote. "Better late than never."

The German Association of the Automobile Industry (VDA) spoke of the "enormous effort" ahead but said the planned deal was a "step in the right direction".

However, the dilution of the original plans was criticized by environmental groups who fear that not enough is being done to curb carbon dioxide emissions, which are seen to contribute to climate change.

Greenpeace accused the German automobile industry of "theatrical whining".

Currently, European cars are bound to fuel efficiency standards of 130 grams of CO2 per kilometer on average across the EU fleet by 2015, a target most carmakers have met, or are close to making.

se/dr (dpa, Reuters)