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  • Car industry split over response to 2020 emissions target

    The process that will confirm how Europe’s 2020 emissions target for new cars should be reached has begun, with the leaders of Europe’s car makers greeted by a ‘Star Wars’ style protest. The current limit for new cars is 130g of carbon dioxide per kilometre to be achieved by 2015, and Europe has a target of 95 g/km for 2020.

    Meeting in Brussels earlier this month, car makers failed to agree on a common position on the proposed 95g limit, which is due to be confirmed in 2013. While there is still time for them to do so, the failure to agree suggests there are differences between car makers who produce a number of low-consumption cars, such as Fiat, Renault and Peugeot-Citroën, and other manufacturers, notably a number of German car companies.

    The German car maker Volkswagen is thought to be lobbying strongly against the 95g limit, saying it is too expensive and cannot be met within the timescale. Yet the car industry made similar claims when the 2015 limit was first proposed, which turned out to be false.

    Arriving at their Brussels meeting, the car executives had to walk past 11 Greenpeace activists dressed in ‘Star Wars’ stormtrooper clothing holding signs saying ‘car lobby meeting this way’. Volkswagen has used the ‘Star Wars’ theme in its advertising, but it was subsequently hijacked by Greenpeace’s high profile ‘Dark Side’ campaign.

    • The EU is taking legal action against Germany for giving the state of Lower Saxony the power to block decisions at Volkswagen. The European Court of Justice ruled the power illegal in 2007, saying the protection it offers the car company restricts the free flow of capital in Europe. Following that ruling, Germany modified the relevant law, but didn’t change the Lower Saxony government’s right to block decisions. The state government is the second-biggest shareholder in Volkswagen after Porsche.