Rhein on Energy and Climate

After many months of discussion, negotiators of Council, Parliament and Commission agreed to a compromise on June 24, to make stricter C02 car emission standards (95 g/km) mandatory by 2020.The finalisation of this compromise under the Irish presidency was considered a formality. But this turned out to be illusory. Under high-level pressure from Germany, the Irish Presidency felt unable to put the compromise to a vote.

The issue is unlikely to be resolved before the summer break and even before German national elections on 22nd September. This does not matter as long as the substance of the compromise will be maintained and the final decision will be taken by the autumn.

The EU cannot afford to give in to the pressure from two highly profitable German premium manufacturers, afraid of making less money from their luxury gas-guzzlers with C02 emissions still exceeding 160 g/km.

Europe needs high-quality, low consumption models to compete with Japanese and Korean manufacturers that are in advance in hybrid and electric technologies. Even the US car industry is dashing ahead towards fuel-efficient vehicles. By 2025, their new models must consume no more than 4.4 liter/100 km, thanks to President Obama’s bold regulation adopted in August 2012.

It needs low gas consumption vehicles in the interest of its 300 million car owners, eager to spend a minimum on gasoline and to enhance its energy security.

Politically, it would be regrettable for the EU to show up at the forthcoming UN Climate Conference in Warsaw in December without having put in place more ambitious car emission standards, which might set an example for the global car industry, a sector with rapidly rising C02 emissions.

Last not least, it is necessary to provide the European car industry with long-term guidelines for even more fuel-efficient vehicles. It would therefore be helpful for the EU to also adopt an informal emission target of 68-78 g C02/km from 2025 onwards, as suggested by the Commission. This would constitute a clear message that the EU wants the industry to focus its research and development on highly energy-efficient vehicles.

Eberhard Rhein, Brussels


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  1. And what about the fact that stricter CO2 emission rules will promote the purchase of newer cars, rather than used cars, which in the end is worse for the environment?

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