22 Jun 2022, 14:05
Benjamin Wehrmann

Germany will not back 2035 combustion engine ban in EU – finance minister

Clean Energy Wire

Germany's finance minister has said the country will not back EU plans that amount to a ban on the sale of new combustion engine cars from 2035, arguing such a move would shut the door for “technology openness” and effectively eradicate synthetic fuels as an alternative. “Synthetic fuels are a climate-neutral option for combustion engine cars, which globally will continue to be used for a long time to come,” finance minister Christian Lindner from the Free Democrats (FDP) said on Twitter. Lindner said he would therefore not agree to the plans in the government cabinet, which could mean that Germany is not going to agree to the proposed EU vehicle fleet emissions limits. The government coalition of the FDP, the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Green Party had said in its coalition treaty that it would endorse the EU’s overall “Fit for 55” climate action plan, of which vehicle emissions are a part, but remained vague on the future use of synthetic fuels. While combustion engine technology should be phased out “step by step,” CO2-neutral cars “outside of the fleet emissions limit scheme” could be powered by e-fuels, for example ambulances or site vehicles, according to the treaty.

NGO Greenpeace said the finance minister’s decision was based on “ideology” and risk a severe dispute in the government coalition. “Germany’s support for a European phase-out of combustion engines can be found in black and white in the coalition treaty,” Greenpeace’s Tobias Austrup said. The pro-business FDP could not save the combustion engine this way, as many producers already had begun to plan without the technology well before 2035, he argued. “Transport minister [Volker] Wissing (FDP) needs to spell out what other measures he plans to implement for making good on the transport sector’s backlog in climate action,” Austrup said, proposing a “registration tax” that favours the switch to electric cars.

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