European Union members states agreed to delay new rules that would limit greenhouse gas emissions produced by new vehicles.
Automakers have long resisted the rules, which would have forced them to cut emissions to 130 grams per kilometer by 2012 compared to the current industry average of 158 grams per kilometer. The rules will instead take effect three years later in 2015.
The move comes as EU member states grapple with putting together a final climate change agreement in light of the slumping global economy. Italy and several eastern European bloc members also have expressed concern about the cost of implementing the EU's ambitious goals of reducing emissions 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.
There is also a difference in opinion among the bloc states over fines for automakers that miss their emissions targets. Italy, for instance, is reportedly pushing for smaller fines than the original penalty of about $122 per gram of CO2 over the target.
There are also some rumblings from environmentalists over the billions of euros that could go to automakers in the form of government-backed, low-interest loans to the industry. "Christmas is coming early for carmakers this year," Franziska Achterberg, a Greenpeace campaigner, told Reuters Friday.
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