The European Union has reached an agreement on a greenhouse gas reduction program for new vehicles, announcing today that carmakers must cut their fleet-wide emissions levels by 18% within the next six years. The program will also see carbon-dioxide emissions levels for new cars cut to an average of 130g/km, with the cut-off date for compliance pushed back to 2015.

It will still require approval by the European Parliament and all 27 EU nations before becoming law, but is not expected to change much, reports Automotive News. The original proposal would have seen the limits brought in as early as 2012 but Germany, which primarily produces heavy-emitting luxury cars, fought the plan and had it pushed back.

The new proposal also integrates a moderate system of fines which will allow carmakers to miss targets by paying for it. While this isn’t a ground-breaking concept - other industries are already being penalized for excess CO2 emissions - it is ground breaking in the sheer excess of the fines.

Monday's deal sees tough fines of €95 ($119.80) per gram per car sold for carmakers that miss their target by a long way, but those that overshoot by less than three grams face modest sanctions of between €5 and €25.

The latest agreement has been criticized by environmentalists, who claim it bows to the demands of the carmakers and undermines the greater effort of fighting climate change.