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09 Mar 2021, 13:20
Kerstine Appunn

Need more than strict CO2 limits for transport transition – MEP and VW workers’ council head

Süddeutsche Zeitung

In setting ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gases, the European Union and its member states should be careful not to forget about the impact this has on the bloc’s most important industries, Manfred Weber, group leader of the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) in the European Parliament, and VW Group workers’ council chairman Bernd Osterloh told Süddeutsche Zeitung in an interview. “The German car industry is the backbone of European industry - 850,000 jobs here, 14 million in Europe,” Weber said, adding that “the branch we are sitting on should hold. But some say: we are already sawing at this branch”. He suggested that emissions from cars had to be looked at in a more holistic way, including the production side. "We mustn't just measure the fleet climate footprint of car manufacturers according to what comes out of the tailpipe, but look at the whole product balance, so that the use of CO2-free steel pays off for the car company." The EU is funding research into hydrogen use in steel, for example, and this should pay off for car manufacturers, Weber said. “We have to shape these markets. It’s not enough to set CO2 specifications,” Weber said. VW's Osterloh said that the “chicken and egg” problem of the scale-up of electric vehicles has to be overcome. Legal conditions and obligations for energy companies have to ensure that a charging infrastructure is created, so that costumers are able to switch to e-mobility. “We have to be able to sell electric cars everywhere. This means that we expect the EU to set up a charging infrastructure in southern or central eastern Europe as well,” Osterloh said.

German car makers have pledged to reduce carbon emissions from their production and their cars, largely embracing the shift to e-mobility. Nevertheless, they are warning of massive job losses, should a ban on fossil-fuelled cars come too early and are adamant that the government has to help with setting up the new charging infrastructure to boost sales of electric vehicles.   

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