German press review: Government to blame for biofuel crisis | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 04.03.2011
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German press review: Government to blame for biofuel crisis

A boycott on a new biofuel has prompted a run on traditional petroleum at Germany's gas stations. The German press argue the government is to blame for consumer confusion.

A selection of German newspapers

The press blame the government for the confusion

Car drivers are refusing to use a new fuel which is made of 10 percent organic petroleum, causing a run on traditional fuels. Deliveries of the new Super E10 fuel to gas stations have been halted because almost no German drivers are willing to use it.

Germany's Economics Ministry has called an emergency summit to try to deal with the boycott and the German press say the government is to blame for the confusion.

Popular daily tabloid Bild Zeitung is firmly on the side of car drivers, and writes that it understands why the public has concerns about the high alcohol content of the fuel and the effect this could have on a car's engine. The newspaper critiques the government's decision to hold an emergency "fuel summit" instead of delivering clear decisions. Bild's advice: "Give up on this organic soup and just start from scratch."

Die Welt focuses on the problem with the biofuel itself, calling it "ecologically and economically insane" due to the vast amount of arable land needed to produce crops for fuel. The paper writes that E10 "ruins motors and reduces performance" and says it's only through hiking the price of conventional fuel that motorists would be forced to buy it.

fuel nozzle

Even though normal fuel is more expensive, it's what drivers want

The Berliner Morgenpost argues that the German government has a high rate of "complicity" in the current chaos, as it made demands on the gas industry to become more environmentally-friendly or face hefty fines. This meant that fuel companies were trying to "convince customers to buy a product that they themselves were not satisfied with."

Daily newspaper the Frankfurter Allgemeine writes that German Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen has tried to shift the blame for the E10 debacle onto the European Union and his predecessor, the SPD's Sigmar Gabriel. However, the paper dismisses this, saying instead it's Röttgen's party leader Angela Merkel - dubbed the "climate chancellor" - who has played a key role in legislation bringing in E10. "In European climate policy, Merkel has triggered many expensive regulations," it writes.

Regional newspaper the Osnabrücker Zeitung says through misinformation, the government is as much to blame as the drivers for the boycott. Over 90 percent of cars can tolerate the new fuel, but many drivers did not know if their car could use E10 or not. "A quick phone call to the car's workshop or a few clicks on the Internet would tell drivers if their car can use the new fuel… The anger at the petrol stations is the result of such sloppy work."

"How much easier it could have been if lists of cars that can't use E10 had been provided at gas stations," wrote the Stuttgarter Nachrichten. "Then it wouldn't be so topsy-turvy today."

Compiled by Catherine Bolsover
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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