Merkel asks EU to not impose tough CO2 targets on German automakers

Article by Anita Panait, on September 16, 2013

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has warned the European Union against imposing difficult environmental targets on German luxury carmakers. During a visit to the Frankfurt motor show on September 12, 2013, Merkel said the environmental measures could harm innovation and economic growth.

Merkel, who is facing elections in less than two weeks, blocked an agreement in June 2013 that would have set an EU carbon dioxide emission target of 95 grams per kilometer by 2020 from 132.4 g/km in 2012.

Merkel remarked during the Frankfurt show that "Europe must learn that we are not an isolated continent but that we must succeed in global competition." She remarked that there is a need to look beyond borders -- push for open and free trade, while not imposing “greater burdens” on Europe’s auto industry than “other continents do with their own industry.”

Matthias Wissmann, head of Germany's VDA auto industry association that includes luxury brands BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, slammed EU officials for making regulation’s much stricter. He said that “while lawyers and bureaucrats have to listen to the engineers with their technical know-how, the auto industry “will not make a good political pawn to be tossed between officials' desks in Brussels.”

In May, Merkel reiterated a target to have around a million electric vehicles on Germany’s streets by 2020, despite weak interest from consumers for units. In fact, fewer than 3,000 EVs were sold in 2012 in Germany, where 3 million vehicles were delivered in the year. In a statement, Merkel emphasized the importance of cross-border cooperation.

According to VDA, the German auto industry is intending an investment of around EUR12 billion ($15.52 billion) in alternative powertrains in the next three to four years. Wissmann remarked that “driving electrically” is not a vision anymore, but already a reality. He noted that thousands of electric cars are already plying on German roads. He added by the end of 2014, German carmakers will have at least 16 EVs on sale.

EVs were once regarded as a technology that could revolutionize the auto industry, becoming rivals to conventional units in terms of numbers.

The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research has published a study saying that the real threat to global economic growth is the continued delays in addressing climate change. According to the scientific study, if the stalemate on international climate policy continues until the end of next decade (2030), global growth could drop by up to 7 percent within the first decade once the policies take effect.

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