German environment agency calls for EV quotas

The head of Germany’s Federal Environment Agency (UBA) has called for carmakers to be given minimum quotas for the number of electric vehicles they must sell. In an interview with the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Maria Krautzenberger said that, without a fixed share of e-vehicles, Germany will not reach its climate targets. Krautzenberger is also highly critical of the car industry and German government subsidies for diesel cars.

Germany currently has 46 million registered cars, of which just 25,000 are electric. Krautzenberger wants that figure to rise to 12 million by 2030. ‘Germany has consciously set climate protection goals,’ she said in the published interview, ‘which we have to achieve because of global warming. A target of 12 million electric vehicles is an ambitious goal, which we won’t reach if we rely solely on the car industry. That’s why we need to give carmakers a quota.

‘I know this is controversial, but it’s been successful in California, and they’re now introducing such quotas in China. Quotas give the makers security of planning. We’ve done the maths: if we want to hit the CO2 reduction target for traffic for 2030, we need 3-12% of the fleet to be electric by 2020, 30-32% by 2025, and 60-70% by 2030.’

The Federal Environment Agency has already set Germany’s cities a non-binding target of 150 cars (electric or fossil fuel) per 1,000 inhabitants. Hamburg currently has the highest with 426, while Berlin has 335. It says hitting the 150 mark would mean there would be virtually no need for public parking, so space would be freed up for bus lanes and cycle paths.

Krautzenberger, who became president of the UBA in 2014 after working in urban development for the Berlin Senate, was highly critical of the car industry and the German government for their attitude to diesel. Asked whether she has sympathy for those car owners who bought diesels because they were being encouraged for their environmental qualities, she said: ‘I understand the anger completely. I find it intolerable that the carmakers are not putting money aside to tackle exhaust problems in inner cities, because the makers have caused the problem.

‘The boom in SUVs shows that current subsidies for diesels are simply wrong. The average CO2 emissions of the newly approved diesels are higher than for petrol cars. The car industry is using diesel to keep high-powered cars on the market. That has completely wiped out the CO2 advantage that diesels used to enjoy over petrol. The subsidies for diesel are simply making oversized cars with high consumption more attractive. The environment hasn’t gained at all.’

Krautzenberger is also pushing electric technology in other areas of transport. She sees great potential for car sharing, especially for e-cars, she wants local buses to be electric, and she wants state-funded incentives for electric bicycles as well as a boost for cycle infrastructure in urban areas.