German Press Review: Car Tax Talk | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 28.01.2004
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German Press Review: Car Tax Talk

German editorials on Wednesday turned their attention to leaked controversial information on plans by Germany’s environment ministry to reform the motor vehicle tax.

The Berliner Kurier thought the air has been cleared surrounding Germany’s new motor vehicle tax thanks to Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin’s comments.

Leaked information shows the government plans to re-adjust the motor vehicle tax from its current form, based on engine size, to the amount of carbon dioxide emissions – a move which would ultimately make diesel cars cheaper but will increase cancer causing pollutants. But Trittin said before any tax change was confirmed, his office would work at promoting mandatory exhaust filters for diesel engines. The paper thought it’s a good idea to tax emissions, and asked: Why shouldn’t cars that produce more pay more?

The Süddeutsche Zeitung asked the same question. The majority of scientists world wide believe that climate change will have serious consequences. The paper said motor vehicle emissions, a large cause of the problem, have increased immensely in Germany since 1990.

The Westdeutsche Zeitung thought there’s no alternative to the proposed exhaust tax. Those who have the money to own expensive fuel guzzling vehicles can afford to pay higher taxes on them. The paper also noted that the increasing pressure to build more environmentally friendly vehicles will strengthen the auto industry in the long run rather than weaken it. As fuel resources diminish, the future belongs to compact, energy saving cars, not greedy

dinosaurs, the paper wrote.

Taking a different view, the Mannheimer Morgen thought Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin has completely backed down under pressure. He’s not only dirtied the image of the federal ministry he’s put the emission tax reforms on the back burner with his decision to first focus on mandatory diesel filters. The paper believed in the end that the whole tax issue should be decided by the individual states in Germany and wondered why the federal politicians are dealing with the issue in the first place? The filters will combat climate change as effectively as a wet tissue, it concluded.

The Badische Zeitung wondered if what slipped out of the environment ministry is just hot air? It hoped not, even if Jürgen Trittin is trying to give that impression. What the paper would like to see is the department to come up with

an ecologically friendly tax system. If the Greens can’t manage to do that then they’ve finally lost what they stand for, the daily wrote.