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The Environment Ministry intends to create a new system for grading low-emission vehicles in terms of their carbon dioxide output, according to ministry officials.

The initiative, to be created over a two-year period starting in fiscal 2003, is aimed at promoting low-emission vehicles to curb global warming, they said.

The government is hoping that such vehicles will lead of a reduction of 2.6 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions by fiscal 2010.

Introduction of the five-star rating system is expected to accompany the enforcement in fall 2005 of stricter regulations on vehicle emissions, the officials said.

Grading will focus on the level of carbon dioxide emissions as opposed to emissions of such pollutants as nitrogen oxides, which have mainly served as the previous standard.

The system will also take into account other points, including noise caused by the vehicles and whether parts are easy to recycle, the officials said.

The ministry is hoping the grading system will heighten environmental consciousness among drivers and prod manufacturers into further developing technologies in this area.

The government considers low-emission vehicles to include electric cars, hybrid cars and other fuel-efficient vehicles.

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