The French and German leaders worked out a deal which nominally keeps the EU’s target for the average new car to emit no more than 120 grams of CO2 per kilometre by 2012, but with a series of measures that would effectively delay and weaken it.
Italy’s environment minister Stefania Prestigiacomo said the proposal was ‘unacceptable’ because it favoured large engines with high fuel consumption and so put companies that specialise in producing low-emission cars at a disadvantage.
The French president received an angry response from Green MEPs, one of whom, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, accused him of ‘falling to his knees before the German car industry’. The same hearing saw demonstrators from Greenpeace heckle a speech by Sarkozy – they held up signs inside the Strasbourg parliament saying ‘Merkel and Sarkozy, Driving Climate Change’.
In a separate development, a citizens’ consultation organised by the European Parliament, has called for the CO2 emissions limit to be 120 g/km for all new cars and 80 g/km by 2020. In previous votes, MEPs have supported 95 g/km as the 2020 target, while Merkel and Sarkozy want a range of 95-110 g/km. Discussions on the 2020 target are still open.
Meanwhile, T&E’s German member VCD has criticised an agreement between the German government and Germany’s 16 Länder (federa-ted states) to base car taxation on CO2 rather than engine size.
The agreement has been welcomed by BMW and Volkswagen, but Gerd Lottsiepen of the VCD said the agreement will make too little difference to the cars that pollute the most.
‘Reforming car taxes only makes sense if you create incentives to lower consumption,’ he said. ‘The tax rises proposed for gas guzzlers are so small that this long-promised and necessary reform is barely a mini-reform.’