Lisbon, Portugal

The fuel efficiency of European vehicles improved in 2010, with CO2 emissions falling by 3.7 percent, according to European Union (EU) data released last Wednesday.

The EU, home to some 500 million people, has set a target for cutting average CO2 emissions down to 130 grams per kilometer by 2015. Last year's results (average CO2 emissions of 140 g/km) put the EU on track to beat its 2015 target, despite extensive lobbying from automakers (sound familiar?) throughout Europe.

EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard, says that:
These data show again that setting targets stimulates the car industry to put greener cars on the market. These innovations also ensure Europe's car industry remains competitive in the changing global market.
The decreased emissions come despite the fact that the weight of the average vehicle sold in the EU rose by 62 pounds in 2010, which Arne Richters, a campaigner for Transport and Environment, says is "no surprise" since EU rules "favor heavier cars by allowing them to emit more CO2."

The EU's data shows that Portugal (129 g/km) led the way in terms of the lowest average CO2 emissions, while Sweden (153 g/km) and Germany (152 g/km) nearly tied for dead last.

[Source: TreeHugger | Image: bm.iphone – C.C. License 2.0]