New figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) have shown that the average carbon dioxide emissions from new cars sold in the UK during 2005 was 169.4g/km.
Friends of the Earth says this is unacceptable and is calling for mandatory targets for manufacturers to produce cleaner cars.
As it stands, a voluntary agreement was made between the EU and the car industry a decade ago to work towards achieving an average CO2 emissions level of 140g/km by 2008, a target which now looks unlikely say environmental campaigners. Under the agreement, the UK’s average CO2 levels have dropped by around 1.4% per year.
"The UK motor industry is failing to take its environmental responsibilities seriously. It will almost certainly fall way short of the European car manufacturers voluntary target for cutting pollution from new cars. This is why mandatory targets for greener cars are needed,” said Friends of the Earth's transport campaigner Tony Bosworth.
"The UK Government must do more to encourage people to buy greener vehicles, and take steps to cut traffic on our roads as part of a determined effort to tackle climate change," he added.
Recent measures announced in the Budget - including a higher tax band for high-polluting cars and a ‘zero-rate’ for cleaner vehicles – were not seen as far-reaching enough by green campaigners.