Germany pushes to delay agreed CO2 limit for cars by four years
The German government has proposed to postpone the implementation of the 95g CO2/km standard for new cars from 2020 to 2024, according to a proposal distributed to European ministers last Friday. This latest German attempt would effectively raise the 2020 target by nearly 10% to 104 g/km in 2020. It would also raise the average new car driver’ fuel bills by €138 a year as new vehicles will be less fuel efficient.
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This June, the European Parliament and EU governments (Council) struck a deal confirming the 95g target for new passenger vehicles in 2020. In an unprecedented move, Germany blocked a Council vote to rubber stamp the agreement, which has been delayed since then. The Lithuanian Presidency has scheduled a EU government vote on the deal for this week. If the Council reject the delayed deal, it will lead to a full second reading in the Parliament and the entire draft law will be up for negotiation again.
This last-ditch German move proposes that the 95g limit would only apply to 80% of the new vehicle fleet in 2020, increasing by 5 percentage points each year until reaching full coverage in 2024. This would allow Germany’s luxury car manufacturers, who already receive more relaxed standards than makers of lighter cars, to sell even more gas-guzzlers for another decade. The impact of the German proposal is similar to one previously assessed by the European Commission that estimated by 2030 it would lead to 120m tonnes of more oil being used, 310m tonnes more CO2 being emitted and a reduction of GDP of up to €5.1bn. 
Greg Archer, clean vehicles manager of Transport & Environment, said: “On the day that the IPCC says that man-made climate change is unequivocal, Germany plays hardball to give its luxury carmakers four more years to sell even more gas-guzzlers. We need ambitious fuel efficiency standards that save drivers money, boost the economy and reduce climate-changing emissions. EU countries must stand up to Germany and vote for more efficient cars.”
So far, and after submitting six proposals, Germany has not secured the support of enough EU countries to form a blocking minority to undo the fairly negotiated deal reached in June. But Chancellor Merkel is exerting extreme pressure on member states to bend to her demands ahead of the next Council meeting.
According to the latest annual report by T&E, four car manufacturers have already achieved the 130g CO2/km limit for 2015 and most of them are well on track to meet the 95g target for 2020.
A new analysis by the International Council for Clean Transport (ICCT) shows that Europe would abandon its competitive lead over the US in terms of car fuel efficiency if the German counter-proposal were adopted. The US is reducing emissions to 2025 at a rate of 4.8% per annum. With this German proposal, Europe would significantly slow down its rate of progress to just 2.25% a year in 2015-2024. Since the regulation came into force in 2009, EU car emissions have declined at annual rate of 3.6%.
Greg Archer added: “The EU has always recognised the future of its car industry depends upon driving innovation towards more efficient, environmentally-friendly cars. Germany’s last-ditch attempt would do the opposite – hamper auto clean innovation and destroy the competitive edge Europe has built over the past decade. Auto suppliers support 95g in 2020  and Germany’s proposal will leave the technology they have developed on the shelf for four more years.”