German car lobby is braking EU climate efforts: Greenpeace

BRUSSELS - Europe's auto manufacturers are doing their best to hinder European Union efforts to make cars more efficient and reduce their climate impact, with German firms the most obstructive, environmental group Greenpeace said in a report released Monday.

By (DPA)

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Published: Mon 26 May 2008, 5:41 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:42 PM

‘The EU time and again has allowed the car industry to fundamentally weaken its efforts... Efforts to undermine legislation have been led by the German car industry, the most effective and well-connected car lobby in Europe,’ the report said.

The lobby has both managed to delay legislation setting limits on the amount of carbon dioxide - CO2, the gas most associated with global warming, which is produced by burning auto fuel - cars should be allowed to emit, and got the authorities to water down their proposals, the report said.

European car manufacturers retort that the proposed rules would damage sales and competitivity.

The EU is currently debating proposals from the European Commission, the bloc's executive, to bring in a law setting limits on the amount of CO2 cars in Europe are allowed to emit - a concept which it first brought forward in 1995.

Environmental groups want the rules to penalize the makers of heavy, high-consumption cars, which emit the most CO2 per kilometre driven, and to be brought in as early as 2012.

But auto manufacturers - especially in Germany, where larger and higher-consumption cars make up a relatively high proportion of total production - say that such measures would threaten their competitiveness in the fiercely-competitive global market.

Moreover, they argue that the horizon of 2012 is too short to allow them to adapt their production as necessary, and that 2015 would be a more realistic figure.

The debate over the commission's proposals has pitted states with large auto industries, such as Germany and France, against those with little or no domestic manufacturing, such as Britain.

Brussels insiders say that the car-producing states are likely to win the battle, and that the final version of the law is unlikely to enshrine the strict criteria which environmental groups want.

However, such an outcome could backfire on EU member states. In 2007 they pledged to make significant reductions in the amount of CO2 they emit from sources such as traffic, with sanctions to be imposed on those who break the pledge.

Emissions from transport are estimated to account for 22 per cent of the EU's CO2 output and are rising yearly - making it extremely difficult for EU members to meet their targets if they do not reduce their transport emissions significantly.

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