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19 May 2009 01:05:09

Obama fuel efficiency targets welcomed by environmentalists



Obama fuel efficiency targets welcomed by environmentalists
Barack Obama's plans for all new vehicles built in the US to average 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016 have been heralded by environmental groups as his biggest step towards lowering emissions so far.

In a ceremony scheduled to take place today at the White House (May 19th), the US president will call on car manufacturers to make their vehicles more fuel-efficient over the next seven years.

President Obama will establish the nation's first exhaust limits, which will force car and truck makers to manufacture vehicles that are 30 percent more efficient than current day alternatives.

Officials said that the change will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 900 million metric tonnes, the equivalent of removing 177 million cars from the road.

"This is the biggest single step we can take to lower global warming pollution," said Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign.

The plan is the result of months of talks between president Obama's administration, the state of California and car-makers General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

However, the targets, which will be introduced gradually in 5 percent annual increments from 2012, could see vehicle prices rise by an average of $1,300 (£840) by 2016.

In January, Obama asked the Environmental Protection Agency to review proposals on exhaust emissions that had previously been submitted by Californian officials but were rejected by the Bush administration.

The Bureau for Transportation Statistics estimated last yeat that more than 17 millions new cars were sold or leased in the US in 2007, a figure which suggests that the emissions targets will have an extensive effect on reducing the nation's carbon footprint.

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