New Car Fuel Consumption & Emission Figures

This page was last updated on 8th January 2021

Cars and Emissions

Climate change, often referred to as global warming, is the greatest environmental threat facing the world. When fossil fuels – petrol, diesel and most alternative fuels, are burnt for energy in an internal combustion engine the main by-products are water and carbon dioxide (CO2).  Although not directly harmful to human health, CO2 is the most significant of the greenhouse gases (GHG) contributing to climate change.  In the UK road transport is now the largest source of CO2 emissions.

The combustion process also results in gases, and particles (known as particulate matter or ‘PM’), that can be hazardous to health. Tyre, brake and road wear is a further source of PM.  Poor roadside air quality causes immediate (acute effects) and/or longer term (chronic) impacts. The new official test, WLTP, as discussed above, provides more representative information on fuel economy, CO2 and air pollutant emissions.  Since 1 January 2019 WLTP has been used for official consumer information on fuel economy.  A later date of 6 April 2020 for WLTP derived CO2 emissions was set, to align with related changes to taxation and other motoring costs including incentives for some Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs).

The Climate Change Act 1998 sets progressively tougher targets for reducing GHGs.  On 12 June 2019 the Prime Minister announced that the UK will eradicate its net contribution to climate change by 2050.