• Absurdity of the scrapping incentives and threats

    The current fashion among Europe’s politicians seems to be providing financial incentives to scrap old cars and replace them with new ones. It is being dressed up as an environmental measure, despite evidence that it can do more harm than good, and in Germany it has led to two absurd developments.

    The German government currently offers €2500 to buyers of new cars, regardless of the carbon dioxide emissions of the new model being bought or the old model being scrapped. The money to fund the incentive comes from general taxation.

    That means a motorist who scraps a 1999 Volkswagen Lupo TDi 3L, the most fuel-efficient vehicle ever mass-produced in Europe (2.99 litres per 100km, or 81g CO2 per km) and buys a 2009 Porsche Cayenne Turbo (14.9 l/100km, 358 g/km) would still receive the full taxpayer-funded payment.

    T&E’s German member VCD has organised a creative and constructive protest against the scrapping incentive, but, in the second absurdity, it has been threatened with legal action by the federal office responsible for administering it.

    The VCD last month set up a web page for people to apply (symbolically) for the €2500 payment when they scrap an old car and replace it with a bicycle or tickets for public transport. Within a week, more than 2000 people had signed up, and as Bulletin went to press, the number was over 5000. But the German federal office for economy and export control (Bafa) has threatened the VCD with legal action if it does not remove the web page immediately.

    Nicole Knaup of the VCD said: ‘We are not going to be intimidated by Bafa. The high participation levels show we’ve hit a nerve. We want more people to sign up on our web page so politicians get the message that people want an environmentally responsible transport policy.

    Climate change isn’t taking a break just because we have an economic recession. The scrapping incentive is unfair and damaging to our climate – it benefits only car drivers, and leaves those who use more environment-friendly transport empty-handed.’

    The VCD web page is at www.vcd.org/umweltpraemie_jetzt.htm but only German tax payers can sign up.