28 Jun 2018, 13:45
Luke Sherman Benjamin Wehrmann

EU car emissions limits divide German experts / Basic commodity burden

German Federal Parliament

Car and transport experts have discussed the European Commission’s proposal to tighten vehicle emission rules in the EU in a committee in the German parliament, giving very different assessments of the approach that is aimed reducing the CO2 output of newly registered passenger cars and light vans after 2020, the German Federal Parliament says in a press release. Gregor Kolbe of the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv) said the European Commission’s proposal was not ambitious enough, arguing that an emissions reduction of 25 percent by 2025 and of 45 percent by 2030 is necessary to achieve meaningful improvements. Peter Gutzmer of car industry supplier Schaeffler AG said a “lopsided focus on pure e-mobility” threatens jobs all over Europe and synthetic fuels that are suitable for reducing carbon emissions should be considered more seriously in future mobility concepts. Economist Manuel Frondel of the Leibniz Institute for Economic Research (RWI) said that the new rules would apply to newly registered cars only, and would therefore not bring down emissions across the board. He said that including the transport sector in the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) and increasing taxes on fuels would be more effective measures than introducing new production standards. Reinhard Kolke of the influential General German Automobile Club (ADAC) said the EU needs to set an absolute emissions limit rather than percentage points of mandatory reduction, and promote other measures to lower CO2 output, such as training sessions on fuel-efficient driving.

Find the press release in German here.

For more information, read the dossier The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector and the article German environment ministry pushes for tougher EU car emission rules.

Die Welt

German luxury and utility vehicle producer Daimler is weighing its options as it searches for the best possible engine for its heavy-duty vehicles in the future, testing potential solutions like electric engines, hydrogen, synthetic and natural gas, hybrid, an even the traditional diesel, the newspaper Die Welt reports. At a so-called “Future Fair” organised at one of Daimler’s truck manufacturing plants, the company presented different options for meeting the EU’s vehicle emissions limits for 2030. Stefan Buchner, head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks, said hybrid engines are no solution for heavy-duty vehicles as they cannot be used in an economically viable way, arguing that traditional diesel engines still have an untapped emissions reduction potential of 10 to 20 percent. The company also wants to expand the use of e-trucks, but the scale of this approach remains unclear and will make the German carmaker more dependent on battery suppliers from abroad. Roland Dold, responsible for vehicle development at Daimler Trucks, said that diesel trucks remain far superior to electric trucks when it comes to energy efficiency, arguing that a truck filled with 224 litres of diesel fuel would have the same range as an e-truck with an eight-tonne battery.

Read the article in German here and a speech on Daimler’s performance strategy by truck branch head Buchner in English here.

For background, read the factsheet Reluctant Daimler plans “radical” push into new mobility world.

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW)

A whole range of different policies is needed to bring down the emissions arising from basic commodity production in Germany, the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) says in its weekly report. The production and use of basic commodities like concrete, steel, or paper are responsible for about a quarter of worldwide CO2 emissions – “but they’re not in the focus of climate politicians,” researchers Karsten Neuhoff and Olga Chiappinelli say. Neuhoff says that the emissions reduction potential in the sector has been largely neglected in the past, and “often concerns over competitiveness or the relocation of production facilities are used as arguments.” The DIW researchers say an EU legal framework that regulates the use of substitute materials, better production design, recycling schemes, as well as a long-term carbon pricing system are needed to bring down emissions in the basic commodity sector.

Read the DIW’s report in German here.

See the CLEW dossier The energy transition’s effect on the economy for background.

BSW Solar

The law aimed at facilitating the use of solar panels in inner cities by allowing tenants to consume electricity generated on their roofs fails to bring about the desired effects, the industry lobby group BSW Solar says in a press release. The effectivity of the law that was introduced about one year ago is hampered by “unnecessary tax burdens and red tape,” the group says, adding that the roughly 100 tenant electricity projects with a capacity of three megawatts (MW) registered with the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) represent less than one percent of the solar power generation potential that currently exist on German roofs. Up to 3.8 million flats in the country could be powered with tenant electricity from solar panels, the group says.

Find the press release in German here.

For background, read the factsheet Cities’ & municipalities’ role in the Energiewende.

Clean Energy Wire

At an event held by the German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE) on 27 June, parliamentarians from the Free Democratic Party (FDP), the Greens, and the Alternative for Germany (AfD) called the government’s climate and energy policy measures misguided. Member of Parliament Dr. Ingrid Nestle of the Greens argued that the measures in place imperil not only the achievement of Germany’s goal of sourcing 65 percent of its power consumption from renewables by 2030, but also the country’s overall emissions reduction targets. “I haven’t seen a single scenario” in which Germany meets its 2030 climate goal without boosting its renewable energy share to 65 percent, she said.
Criticising his Green counterparts’ support for bans on certain fuels and technologies, FDP parliamentarian Prof. Dr. Martin Neumann called for both an end to the renewable energy surcharge and a reorientation of Germany’s energy policy towards a more market-based and less prescriptive one. AfD MP Steffen Kotré, after calling into question mankind’s influence on the climate, argued that Germany’s move away from both nuclear energy and fossil fuels would cost the country billions of euros over the next decades. “The entire Energiewende has no concept behind it,” he said.

For background, read the factsheet Vote 2017: German parties’ energy & climate policy positions and the article First 100 days - German government in disarray neglects energy policy.


The star of Germany as a climate action leader has been descending for several years, not least due to its rigid stance on phasing out nuclear power and filling the energy generation gap with carbon-intensive coal power, Michael Shellenberger writes for Forbes. “Now, heedless of its negative environmental impact, and in the grip of a darkly romantic national ideology, Germany is on the march to raze nuclear plants all across Europe,” he says.

Read the article in English here.

For background read the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out.


Volkswagen has opened a new assembly plant and put into operation new mobility services like car sharing in Rwanda, according to a company press release. Volkswagen plans to assemble up to 5,000 cars per year at its new plant, and seeks to play a leading role in the nascent African auto industry. “Rwanda can serve as a blueprint for other emerging countries in Africa and around the world,” Thomas Schäfer, chairman and managing director of Volkswagen Group South Africa, said.

Read the press release in German here.

Focus Online

Tesla has by now installed a record number of fast-charging stations in Europe: more than 400. Since expanding its “Supercharger” network from Norway to the rest of Europe in 2013, the US-based car company has inspired competition from its American and German rivals. In a joint venture with BMW, Ford, Mercedes, and Volkswagen, Ionity is now also building fast-charging stations on the continent.

Read the article in German here.

German Federal Parliament

The German Green Party fears that the government could cancel two special auctions for wind and solar power projects that the governing CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democrats (SPD) promised in its coalition treaty, the German Federal Parliament says in a press release. Members of the Greens' parliamentary group voiced their fear in the parliament's economy committee that the promised special tenders for onshore wind power and solar energy would be dropped in spite of being indispensable for Germany to reach its 2030 climate target. In their view, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Conservatives have not only put the brakes on the process but halted it completely. In response, the Conservatives argued that the tenders would take place, but only in line with the relevant usability requirements and based on public acceptance.

Read the press release in German here.

For background, read the factsheet Vote 2017: German parties’ energy & climate policy positions.

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