CANBERRA - Australia's car industry unveiled plans on Tuesday to reduce fuel consumption of new passenger cars by about 18 percent by 2010 to help cut emissions of carbon dioxide blamed for global warming.
The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries said a voluntary code of practice set a target to cut the amount of fuel used by new cars to 6.8 liters per 100 km (68 miles) by 2010 from the 2001 level of 8.28 liters.
"To achieve the new target, we will need to introduce sophisticated new engine and fuel system technologies to many of the vehicles sold in Australia," the chamber's chief executive Peter Sturrock said in a statement.
Sturrock said additional research was needed by 2004 to expand the industry's efforts to develop targets to cut carbon dioxide emissions from other categories of light vehicles, including four-wheel drives and light commercial vehicles.
Australia is home to four major automakers, which are all units of overseas players. They include Holden, the Australian arm of General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Mitsubishi Corp.
The U.S. parent companies have resisted attempts at home to impose higher fuel efficiency targets, saying they could result in weaker auto frames that, in the case of accidents, could prove more dangerous to their passengers.
The transport sector accounts for almost 20 percent of Australia's total emissions of so-called greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. The Australian government welcomed the move.
"The new voluntary code of practice will lead to a reduction of up to two million tonnes of greenhouse gases by 2010," Environment Minister David Kemp said in a statement.
A spokeswoman for the Australian Greenhouse Office said Australia produced about 553 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2000.
The country is one of the world's top coal exporters and has refused to ratify the global Kyoto treaty on combating climate change, under which industrialized nations must cut emissions by an average 5 percent by 2012 from 1990 levels.
Canberra argues Kyoto is unviable without the United States, the world's biggest polluter, which has rejected the accord.
Environmental groups say official statistics show Australia's carbon dioxide emissions already have risen by 17.4 percent since 1990 and will have risen by 30 percent by 2012.