Roll-Back: German Finance Minister Pulls Plug On Stricter CO2 Emissions For Cars

  • Date: 07/08/18
  • Spiegel Online

Climate trouble in the Social Democratic Party (SPD): Environment Minister Schulze wanted stricter CO2 limits for cars. First the car industry rebelled and than the workers’ councils – then Germany’s Vice-Chancellor pulled the plug on the plan.

When it comes to climate protection, the impact of car traffic looks devastating: since 1990, emissions of greenhouse gases by German cars have even increased slightly. Ever larger and faster cars, especially SUVs, eat up all the fuel savings that engineers get out of modern engines.

By signing Paris climate agreement, Germany has committed to achieving stringent climate protection goals by 2030. An opportunity to do so would be to set new CO2 limits for cars at EU level.

But the federal government is just about to miss this opportunity. The reason: differences between Finance ministers Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) over increased climate targets for cars.

According to SPIEGEL, Scholz, at a meeting with Schulze in the Ministry of Finance, complained about her proposal to reduce CO2 emissions for passenger cars by 50 percent by 2030 compared to 2021. The environment minister had demanded this for new target at EU level. This goal should now be off the table. The only issue now is looking for a way for the environment minister to come out of this conflict without losing face.

Workers’ councils warn about job losses

An important role in this decision was played by the visit of the workers’ councils of German car companies in Berlin in mid-July. Among other things, they explained to Schulze that a 50% reduction in cars’ CO2 emissions was allegedly technically impossible and would lead to high job losses.

Criticism comes from climate activists: “The car companies and their suppliers are trying to artificially extend the life of the traditional combustion engine in Europe,” said Christian Hochfeld, director of the think tank Agora Verkehrswende. In October, the Federal Government will have to comment on a proposal on new CO2 limits at the EU Council of Environment Ministers. At the beginning of next year, the new EU regulation should then be adopted.

Translation GWPF

Full story (in German)

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