EU, German Automakers Battle Over Emissions

A long-term goal of the European Union is to reduce the release of greenhouse gasses into the environment. As part of this larger initiative, it has set definitive goals along the way to reduce the carbon footprint of their continent.

Among these interim goals are a huge reduction of CO2 levels released over 1990 totals.  One of the ways this is being accomplished is the introduction of green technology into many different industries.

One such industry is automotive production which, under current EU policy, will be forced into major changes in the coming decades.

The European Commission is currently drawing up a proposal to limit CO2 emissions from vehicles by the year 2030, with lesser goals for 2025. That proposal, however, is being lobbied against by German industry.

The Commission’s motion specifically aims for a 25-35% drop in current carbon emission levels by 2030. It also calls for automakers to make between 15-20% of their fleets ‘zero emission vehicles’ (ZEVs), a tall order indeed.

The proposal is due on November 8, and in the weeks leading up to the date, the Commission has been contacted by representatives from automakers. Head of VDA, a German automotive lobbying group, Matthias Wissmann, spoke with Martin Selmayr, chief of staff to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete was also contacted during the week of October 20th, same as Mr. Selmayr.

Suspiciously, on October 31, just days after the phone calls, a meeting between cabinets was called to discuss the impending proposal. Specifically, to discuss removing the 2025 interim goal, as well as the possibility of removing the ZEV requirement, or at least watering the minimum requirement down.

A Spokesperson for the European Commission confirmed the meeting took place, leading to some criticism. The Commission claims the phone calls from VDA prove that the EU respects all interested parties and is willing to discuss the issues with them.

Environmentalist groups are calling foul in the face of the perceived lobbying. Transport & Environment, one such group, believes this is proof that auto manufacturers are not willing to play ball with EU policy.

No doubt that EU member-states generally are willing to comply with the mandate. Several nations have officially asked the Commission for a 40% emissions reduction target for 2030, including France, Belgium, Sweden, Portugal and Ireland.

VDA was not available for comment on the situation.

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