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  • Germany’s green rescue package points the way for Europe

    The German rescue package announced last night will help fight the worst economic shock in decades by transforming the economy to make it greener and stronger, environmental group Transport & Environment (T&E) has said. Under the plan, €2.2 billion will be spent on incentivising electric cars and car fleets - not polluting petrol and diesels - supporting auto industry jobs and helping the sector to decarbonise. It also includes €7 billion in hydrogen investments, €2.5 billion for electric vehicle recharging infrastructure and battery manufacturing, €2 billion for energy-efficient houses, €1.2 billion for clean buses and trucks, and €5 billion for the German railway company Deutsche Bahn. 

    There had been intense pressure by carmakers to introduce a so-called scrappage scheme for diesel and petrol cars but the €6,000 state-funded premium will be limited to electric models only. This sets an important precedent for governments everywhere trying to support the car industry.

    Stef Cornelis, T&E Germany director, said: “After France now Germany is pointing the way forward with massive investments in electric cars, recharging infrastructure and railways. This is exactly what’s needed to support jobs and help us emerge stronger and greener from the COVID crisis. The plan isn’t perfect but it should be a wake-up call for the Commission and other European countries ahead of the all-important decision on the EU’s €750 billion recovery and resilience fund.”

    However, T&E said the plan to spend €1 billion of taxpayers’ money on new planes is misguided. Airlines should pay for them out of their own pockets. Instead, Germany should go all in on greener jet fuels, such as synthetic fuel, which actually have the potential to substantially reduce aviation emissions. While investment in shore-side charging for ships is welcome, the German government needs to re-think its support for LNG ship infrastructure as the science clearly shows it is worse for the climate than even existing marine fuels.

    T&E also said that no public money should be used for subsidising diesel trucks. The German government intends to use EU recovery funds to provide up to €15,000 in subsidies for trading old diesel trucks for new EURO VI models.

    Stef Cornelis said: “Germany is about to take over the presidency of the EU in three weeks’ time. It must use its leadership to make sure the Commission’s big recovery plan is used to strengthen and green the economies of countries like Spain and Italy.”