The European Commission pushed Wednesday for cuts in automobile carbon emissions but environmentalists said the plans did not go far enough while car makers warned that it would hurt the industry.
European Union Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard issued proposals to slash the average emissions in new cars from 135.7 grammes of CO2 per kilometre to 95 grammes in 2020.
"With our proposals we are not only protecting the climate and saving consumers money, we are also boosting innovation and competitiveness in the European automotive industry," she said.
"And we will create substantial numbers of jobs as a result. This is a clear win-win situation for everyone," she said.
Hedegaard defended the plan as "fair and balanced," denying that concessions were made to car manufacturers.
But the environmentalist group Greenpeace accused the commission of diluting the proposed vehicle efficiency standards under pressure from the auto industry.
"These proposed efficiency standards bear the fingerprints of the car lobby," said Greenpeace's EU transport policy director Franziska Achterberg.
Greenpeace charged that an "accounting trick" was used to calculate average fleet emissions, which would allow auto makers to sell more polluting cars.
The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) said it would work with its members, which include giants such as BMW, Toyota Motor Europe and General Motors Europe, to analyse the feasibility of the targets.
"These are tough targets -- the toughest in the world," said ACEA secretary general Ivan Hodac.
"Indeed, contrary to some claims, the proposed targets for the European fleet are far more stringent than those in the US, China or Japan," he said.
"This will increase manufacturing costs in Europe, creating a competitive disadvantage for the region and further slowing the renewal of the fleet."
Explore further: Switzerland 1st country to submit pledge for UN climate pact