14 Sep 2017, 00:00
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Merkel calls for zero-emission mobility/ VW proposes battery alliance

Clean Energy Wire

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the German car industry to do all that is necessary to regain the credibility and trust lost during the emissions scandal. In her opening speech at the Frankfurt car show (IAA), Merkel said carmakers had “excessively exploited loopholes” in regulations. She said the continued success of the sector was not only key for the companies themselves, but also for their employees and the German economy as a whole. With reference to the Paris climate targets, Merkel said: “We have to manage the transition to zero-emission mobility.”

The head of the German car industry association VDA, Matthias Wissmann argued EU nitrogen dioxide (NO2) limits were too strict when compared to levels allowed at workplaces, and the rules established by the US Environmental Protection Agency. “If we had the EPA’s limits, we wouldn’t have problems at any measuring point” in Germany, Wissmann said.

See the CLEW article Frankfurt car show puts spotlight on German carmakers’ troubles and the factsheet “Dieselgate” – a timeline of Germany’s car emissions fraud scandal for background.

Environmental Action Germany

Two years after the diesel emissions fraud scandal broke in September 2015, German carmakers fail to come up with available e-car models at the Frankfurt Car Show (IAA) and instead present “more diesel-SUVs than ever before,” NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH) says in a press release. “The number of German e-car models actually shrunk in 2017, while that of SUVs doubled”, DUH head Jürgen Resch said. The DUH says Chancellor Angela Merkel needed to do more than merely saying on TV that she is “really angry” with the carmakers. The Chancellor had to oblige carmakers to offer nothing but “clean diesel” cars by 2018 and help “the nine million duped owners of diesel cars” to prevent a loss in value of their vehicles due to driving bans in inner cities by forcing carmakers to retrofit the cars, Resch says.

Read the press release in German here.

See the CLEW article Frankfurt car show puts spotlight on German carmakers’ troubles and the factsheet “Dieselgate” – a timeline of Germany’s car emissions fraud scandal for background.

Germany’s biggest carmaker VW has proposed a European alliance for battery cell production to counter the current dominance of suppliers from East Asia, reports. It would be “desirable” that German and European industry actors stepped up their efforts, VW brand manager Herbert Diess said at the Frankfurt Car Show (IAA). Diess said battery cell production was going to be one of the fastest growing markets of the near future and “a European consortium” would be able to develop enough expertise to compete with traditional Asian producers.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet Dieselgate forces VW to embrace green mobility for background.

Federal Environment Ministry / Reuters

The European Union’s car industry is not in charge of proposing its own regulation for CO₂ emissions limits, said the German environment ministry (BMUB) in reaction to a proposal by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA). “These requirements are still set by the government,” said a ministry spokesperson at a press conference in Berlin. The EU Commission would present a new proposal for fleet limits in autumn, and the German government was supporting the idea of a quota for low-emission vehicles, said the spokesperson.

Find the Reuters article in English here and a Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung article on the BMUB statement in German here

For background, read the CLEW article Why the German diesel summit matters for climate and energy.

Federal Statistical Office

Germany’s car industry has increased its share of gross value added in the country between 2005 and 2015 to 4.5 percent, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) says in a press release. Contrary to most European countries, the industry’s importance has grown significantly: In 2005, the "manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers" still accounted for 3.4 percent of gross value added, Destatis said. In 2015, about 871,000 people were employed in the industry, generating gross value added of 124 billion euros, it adds.

Read a short press release in English here and a more detailed one in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossiers The Energiewende and German carmakers and The energy transition's effect on jobs and business.


Chancellor Angela Merkel said her government was still committed to reaching the country’s 2020 target to reduce emissions by 40 percent despite greenhouse gas emissions in Germany having increased. Asked if she thinks the government would succeed, Merkel said: “I’m working on making it happen, yes. We have committed to it.” In German broadcaster ARD’s town hall election campaign TV show, the chancellor added: “There’s still a lot to be done. Because we have advanced the energy transition relatively fast, we have a situation in which we export a lot of lignite power, for example to Poland. It’s still produced cleaner than maybe in the country itself. But, anyway, emissions have increased.” European climate goals were “not the problem”, said Merkel. “We already reach them.”

Watch the video in German here (from min. 30:42).

See the CLEW article Germany heads for "spectacular" 2020 climate target miss- study and the factsheet The story of “Climate Chancellor” Angela Merkel.

Deutsche Welle

Germany’s energy transition is a project that “commands respect” from its European neighbours but the country also depends on a strong Europe to pursue the Energiewende and embark on other economic endeavours, former EU Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding writes in a guest article for Deutsche Welle. Germany has gone “from the sick man of Europe to an engine for growth” under Angela Merkel’s leadership since 2005, she says. But the country must “help Brussels turn Europe from recovery to an anchor of stability in the world”, Reding says.

Read the article in English here.

See the CLEW dossier Germany’s energy transition in the European context for more information.

Focus Online

A new drill developed by the Technical University Bergakademie Freiberg in Saxony that crushes rocks with lightning flashes could lead to substantial cost cuts in geothermal energy generation, Focus Online reports. After ten years of testing, researchers successfully used the so-called “electric impulse technique” in a real borehole for the first time, saying it could make an important contribution to Germany’s energy transition, the article says.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW dossier New technologies for the Energiewende for more information.

Handelsblatt Online

Germany’s state-owned nuclear repository operator EWN delays overhauling the security standards of its nuclear repository in northern Germany which are required to protect it from terrorist attacks, Silke Kersting writes on Handelsblatt Online. The Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) called on repository operators to improve security standards in 2011. But while private operators largely obeyed, state-owned EWN has moved “to the bottom of the table”, Kersting says. 

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out for more information.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

In a draft for a call-to-vote, the Green Party writes that it is willing to negotiate with all parties except the AfD after the elections on 24 September, but “distances itself as far as possible from the FDP” (Free Democratic Party), writes Stefan Braun in Süddeutsche Zeitung. A new grand coalition (CDU/CSU-SPD) would mean standstill, but a government with the Greens would mean progress, the party leadership writes. Yet, a coalition between the FDP and the conservatives (CDU/CSU) after the election would mean a social and ecological step backwards. The Green Party claims this would lead to Germany missing its climate targets, coal being given “priority over wind and solar”, and the combustion engine being protected. The call-to-vote is to be decided on Sunday, 17 September.

Read the article in German here and the paper in German here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet Colour codes: How energy & climate policy differs in German coalitions.

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