01 Oct 2020, 13:39
Sören Amelang

German government squabbles over CO2 label for cars

Süddeutsche Zeitung

A bitter dispute has flared up within Germany's government about which new cars are to receive a green label indicating relatively low CO2 emissions to potential buyers, report Michael Bauchmüller and Martin Kaul in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. In a letter seen by the newspaper, environment ministry state secretary Jochen Flasbarth accuses the economy ministry of "explicitly trying to support as many high-volume combustion engine models as possible" by awarding them a green label following a pending reform of the classification system. "Gearing consumer information so one-sidedly to industry concerns also damages the credibility of consumer information policy and labelling in general," Flasbarth writes.

Germany plans to reform consumer labels indicating cars' fuel consumption following a reform of emissions tests in the wake of the dieselgate scandal. Existing labels are still based on outdated laboratory tests to measure fuel consumption, which is now measured on the road to reflect real driving conditions. The currently used labels also take account of a vehicle's weight, meaning even cars with very high absolute emissions can get a low consumption label as long as their fuel use compares favourably to other heavy cars. Germany's federation of consumer organisations (VZBV) said keeping these criteria would "represent a continuation of consumer deception as we know it." The label reform was originally scheduled for April 2019, but has been delayed.

The economy ministry proposed in the summer to put almost two-thirds of all new cars into the fuel consumption categories A, B, and C, meaning they would all be awarded a greenish label, according to the article. Category C would include cars that emit between 122 and 143 grams of CO2 per kilometre, which exceeds the new EU fleet emission targets. But the economy ministry argues that combustion engine models will likely emit 143 grams on average next year. In contrast, the environment ministry favours ending "green" labels at 120 grams. This would result in only a quarter of new cars being awarded a green label, the article says.

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