News Digest Item
29 Nov 2017

Chancellor Merkel “submits” to German car industry – environmental organisation

Environmental Action Germany / Association of Local Municipalities / VCD

The latest diesel summit of Germany’s federal government and representatives of municipalities with high levels of air pollution has been a “failure”, Jürgen Resch, head of organisation Environmental Action Germany (DUH), said in a press release. None of the measures presented are adequate to substantially bring down levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution in affected cities before a possible driving ban could take effect, the DUH said. The summit resulted in neither a pledge by carmakers to mechanically retrofit nine million manipulated diesel cars, nor did it make progress on a so-called “blue badge” solution needed to identify vehicles that abide by emissions standards. Chancellor Angela Merkel “submits” to the carmakers and continues to appeal to voluntary measures instead of threatening the companies with huge fines, Resch said.

Michael Ebling, mayor of the city of Mainz and head of the Association of Local Municipalities (VKU), said that federal financial support to enable German cities to reduce air pollution had to continue after 2018. “The elephant in the room” - the car industry - had to present alternative engines more quickly, Ebling said in a statement. The carmakers either had to do so voluntarily or policymakers had to come up with binding legislation, he added.

Gerd Lottsiepen, of environmental organisation Verkehrsclub Deutschland (VCD), said the summit fell short of being “the necessary beginning of a transition in the transport sector”. Digitalisation measures, if anything, would only improve air quality in the medium-to-long term, and the underlying factors of high NO2 levels had not been tackled, Lottsiepen said. Manipulated cars had to be retrofitted by the carmakers and new registrations of cars with excessive emissions limits needed to stop, he argued.

Read the DUH press release in German here, the VKU statement here and the VCD press release here.

See the CLEW factsheet The debate over and end to combustion engines in Germany for more information.

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