Press Release

German government threatens to block EU truck CO2 law

February 7, 2024

It’s the third time the Scholz government has threatened a last-minute U-turn on European environment laws.

A planned vote on new EU climate targets for trucks is up in the air today after the German Transport Ministry, led by the FDP, backtracked on its support for the legislation. EU ambassadors were set to rubber-stamp a deal on the legislation today. But the FDP unilaterally threatened to withdraw German support without consultation with its coalition partners or the Chancellery.

The German blockage is being triggered by the FDP, which is calling for a loophole for e-fuels and biofuels – including climate-wrecking palm oil – despite the Transport Ministry signing off on the EU Council’s position in October that fuels for trucks would be reviewed in 2027. The German government welcomed the Council’s position on the basis that it included a review. Only days before today’s vote, the Scholz government also reversed its position on the EU corporate due diligence law and last year it U-turned on the Car CO2 law.

Fedor Unterlohner, freight policy manager at Transport & Environment, said: “This is the third time the Scholz government has threatened to go back on its word and derail an agreement with its EU partners. The message goes out that Germany’s position is up in the air until the ink has dried on a law. The German government and Scholz should not allow itself to be bullied into backtracking on a deal that even its domestic automotive industry supports.”

German and European truckmakers have said they do not want a loophole for e-fuels or biofuels in the truck CO2 law as it would create regulatory uncertainty. In a letter to the German government in October, the CEOs of Daimler Truck, MAN, Volvo Group, and Scania/Traton said that a carbon correction factor “risks undermining the objective of the regulation and creating an uncertain regulatory environment” for the industry.

A carbon correction factor would allow trucks running on synthetic fuels and even the most unsustainable biofuels, such as palm oil and soy, to be counted as climate neutral. Palm oil biodiesel is the worst of all biofuels. It releases three times the greenhouse gases emissions of fossil diesel. Soy biodiesel releases twice the greenhouse gases emissions.

Fedor Unterlohner said: “The German truck manufacturers have said they don’t want a loophole for e-fuels or biofuels. The FDP is going against the interests of its own domestic auto industry which wants regulatory certainty, not diversions into dead-end technologies when it is in a race with foreign rivals to electrify.”

Trucks and buses are responsible for 27% of climate emissions from road transport in Europe, while only accounting for 2% of the vehicles on the road.

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