Europeans are buying cars that are more efficient, according to new research. Average carbon dioxide emissions per kilometer continue to fall in Europe, according to data from the European Environment Agency (EEA). Car manufacturers are also reportedly mostly on track to meeting European Union (EU) targets.

There were 12.8 million new vehicles registered in the EU in 2011. Average CO2 emissions for these cars were 135.7 g CO2 per kilometer, which is 4.6g CO2/km lower than in 2010–a reduction of 3.3%. A combination of changes in buying behavior, improved technology and engine efficiency was mostly responsible for this reduction, according to EEA analysis.

In addition, the long-term reduction of emissions has been influenced by an increasing uptake of diesel cars, an ongoing trend that continued in 2011. The gap between average CO2 emissions of new diesel and gas vehicles has been narrowing in recent years; in 2011, it was just 3.2g CO2/km. In 2011, 55.2 % of the vehicles registered in 2011 in Europe were diesel vehicles, an increase from 51.3% in 2010.

“We can see new cars becoming more efficient year-on-year–a good example of regulation helping industry to make real improvements,” said Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the EEA. It is also encouraging to see sales of electric cars starting to climb.”

In the EU, CO2 emissions from road transport have increased by 23% between 1990 and 2010, becoming responsible for approximately one-fifth of the EU’s total emissions. In order to cut greenhouse gas emissions from transport, carmakers have a collective target for the average car sold in the EU to emit a maximum of 130g CO2/km by 2015 and 95g CO2/km by 2020.

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