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Meet the biggest CO2 culprits among Europe's carmakers

Meet the biggest CO2 culprits among Europe's carmakers

Posting in Energy

Daimler and its Mercedes Benz cars pump out more carbon dioxide than any other brand in Europe, a Brussels watchdog notes. There's a large gap between them and some other manufacturers.

Daimler cars emitted more CO2 than any major brand in Europe.

Daimler cars - including the Mercedes Benz line - pumped out more CO2 emissions on average than any other major automobile brand in Europe last year, followed by Volvo.

That’s according to Brussels-based environmental watchdog Transport & Environment, which has published a list showing that Daimler’s CO2 footprint exceeded Europe’s best performer, Fiat, by almost 30 percent.

Daimler averaged 161 grams of CO2 per kilometer compared to Fiat’s126g CO2/km.

A Daimler spokesman did not dispute the findings. “Our clear goal is to reach an average fleet value below 140g CO2/km by end of 2012,” he replied to SmartPlanet in an email. “And we are on our way to reaching that goal.” Daimler, the manufacturer of powerful Mercedes Benz cars, topped the list despite also producing the small, fuel efficient Smart.

The 140g CO2/km target is a milestone on the path towards Europe’s mandated 130g CO2/km by 2015. The 130-gram target is the latest watered-down goal in a 17-year history of softening EU laws that at one point would have required 120g CO2/km by 2012.

Fiat cars led all others with a comparatively small CO2 footprint.

Volvo was a close second as a CO2 culprit behind Daimler, emitting 157g CO2/km, and Mazda was third with 149. Joining Fiat among the low emitters on the 15-brand list was second-best Toyota, at 130g CO2/km, and PSA Peugeot Citroen at 131g CO2/km.

Although Volvo scored among the worst emitters, it also registered the biggest yearly reduction in CO2, T&E reported. Volvo did not reply to SmartPlanet’s request for a comment by the time this blog posted.

Honda and Mazda registered the biggest year-to-year increase in CO2 emissions.

On a country basis, the report notes that “Europe’s largest car market, Germany, made the second-worst progress in cutting CO2 emissions from new cars last year, with a cut of just 1.8% averaged across sales of 2.8 million vehicles.” T&E is pessimistic about Germany’s prospects for improvements, given that Berlin in July agreed to put certain large sport utility vehicles like the Audi Q7 into a greener category than small efficient cars like the Smart and Fiat Panda, the report notes.

Slovakia showed the least year-to-year improvement, cutting CO2 by only 1.3 percent, while Denmark came up tops, with an 8.9 percent cut.

Overall, T&E notes that 2010’s new cars in Europe were 4% more fuel efficient than a year earlier and emitted 4 percent less CO2.

They also cost consumers 2.5 percent less, which T&E points out undermines the car industry’s argument that government mandated fuel efficiency will raise retail prices.

“The car industry has consistently resisted fuel efficiency regulations by complaining that cars would become  ‘unaffordable,’” T&E director Jos Dings said in a press release. “But car emissions have now dropped to 140g CO2/km and that simply hasn’t happened; prices have actually fallen in real terms.”

And so far, consumers are showing a preference for internal combustion improvements over newfangled electric cars.

Images: Top, Daimler. Bottom, mycarheaven/Flickr

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Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure