10 May 2021, 14:22
Sören Amelang

Germany's largest union warns new CO2 target will speed up car industry job losses

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Government plans to increase Germany's climate ambitions will accelerate job losses in the car industry without decisive policy intervention to secure employment, the country's largest labour union IG Metall has warned. "For a supplier that has so far made its living exclusively from components for combustion engines, more ambitious climate protection targets are exacerbating the problems," the union's head Jörg Hofmann told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "Orders for these companies will disappear even faster than previously expected." He said the target of cutting CO2 emissions by 65 percent by 2030 meant that the country needed 14 million to 16 million electric cars on the road by the end of the decade, instead of 8 million to 10 million as previously planned. Hofmann criticised that the country's current policy debate about climate action largely ignores economic and social aspects. "What is needed here is a clever industrial policy that takes countermeasures at an early stage," he said.

Hofmann said climate change was such an urgent problem that the fight against it cannot be too fast. "But the question is: how do we mitigate the upheavals and dislocations that the restructuring of industry entails?" he asked. Hofmann said he is not against a phase-out date for the sale of combustion engines "if the politicians could answer the question of how we are going to provide the necessary [charging] infrastructure by then, how companies are going to switch to new products, and how there are going to be reliable options for the employees." Hofmann accused some companies of using the shift to e-mobility as an opportunity to relocate factories abroad. "Components made in Germany for combustion vehicles are being replaced by components for e-cars made in foreign factories. This has to stop," Hofmann said, naming major supplier Continental as an example. He said the transition to electric mobility must not lead to job relocations, adding new industrial jobs must be created in Germany's heavily affected car-making regions to replace lost ones.

In a study commissioned by car industry association VDA, the Institute for Economic Research (Ifo) estimated last week that the shift to e-mobility puts 100,000 jobs at risk by 2025. The German car industry employs more than 800,000 people, and around half of them depend on combustion engine production.

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