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EU Targets Car CO2

DW staff (nda)January 20, 2007

Germans are divided over European Union's plan to impose new limits on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for the entire car industry in the 27-member bloc.


The 27-member bloc's Environmental Commissioner Stavros Dimas is floating plans for a new industry-wide CO2 limit on new vehicles from 2012, cutting the current voluntary limit of 140 grams per kilometer to an enforced 120 grams.

The plans are part of the EU's strategy to reduce the levels of greenhouse gases created by automotive vehicles on European highways. Its initial strategy of encouraging car companies to enforce their own self-regulated levels of CO2 output in their newest vehicles has been inefficient. Few new vehicles on European roads achieve the 140 grams/km limit.

Germany's Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel told the German parliament this week that the EU must do all it can to bring down the level of carbon dioxide emissions. He said it was obvious that the policy of self-regulation within the auto industry was not working. In short, Gabriel apparently seemed to support the idea of a regulated and enforced limit.

Verheugen touts trading scheme

Günter Verheugen
Verheugen is in favor a carbon trading scheme for carsImage: AP

However Günter Verheugen, Gabriel's compatriot in the EU parliament, was not of the same mind. The EU industry commissioner rejected the call for a strict limitation on CO2 emissions in the car industry and argued that a system similar to that employed by industry where emission credits can be bought and sold.

Under the bloc's emissions trading scheme, industries can buy and sell emissions quotas. If they exceed their limit, they have to buy credits from other companies. Verheugen argued that for some car manufacturers, this would be less expensive than developing emission reduction technologies for their new vehicles by 2012.

"For a manufacturer like Porsche, this would always be cheaper than to demand that its cars are developed to reach the emission level of 120 grams," said Verheugen.

Gabriel skeptical of alternative plans

Sigmar Gabriel zu Klimaschutz
Sigmar Gabriel wants auto firms to cut CO2 to EU levelsImage: picture-alliance/dpa

But Sigmar Gabriel is skeptical as to whether an expansion of the emissions trading scheme to the auto industry was practical.

"It is already difficult enough to apply the trading scheme," he said, and referred to the ongoing disarray within industry itself and the problems experienced while planning a similar scheme in the aviation business.

Gabriel added that the argument over automotive CO2 emissions should be discussed through Germany's EU presidency but added that an agreement should not be rushed to be completed by the end of the six-month role.

"This is very ambitious," he said, adding that the topic required a lot of thought and discussion to find a compromise.

He said that consultations with colleagues from the other 26 EU states would begin soon but that finding a common agreement by June would only happen "if things go really well."