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Berlin divided over cars’ CO2 limits, hindering EU decision

The German parliament, the Bundestag, is hosting a public hearing on 27 June on the European Commission’s proposal on cars’ CO2 emission limits for 2025/30 in a bid to find a consensus between the different ministries.

“At the moment, you find the environment and finance ministries on the one side, the transport and economy ministries on the other side and no one really knows when there will be a decision,” Peter Mock, managing director at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), told EURACTIV.

“In Brussels, the positioning of Germany is urgently expected, otherwise no progress is possible and the adoption of a regulation before the next EU election in danger,” he explained.

Mock is among the nine participants who were invited to take part in the public hearing and present their analysis to the representatives of the Bundestag. It was research from the ICCT which first exposed the defeat devices on emissions tests used by German carmaker Volkswagen.

The German environment ministry said it is necessary to increase the level of ambition for cars’ CO2 by reducing emissions to -50% by 2030 and -25% by 2025 if the country were to reach its climate protection targets.

Mock underlined that this proposal was more ambitious than that of the European Commission: The EU executive has proposed to reduce car and light commercial vehicle emissions by 30% by 2030, and by 15% by 2025, compared to 2021 levels.

The finance ministry expressed its support because it fears Germany will have to pay a fine for not meeting its CO2-reduction target, he specified. Both ministries are led by social-democrats, respectively by Svenja Schulze and Olaf Scholz.

But transport minister Andreas Scheuer from the conservative Bavarian CSU party called the tighter limits “arbitrary” and said they risked to “obliterate Europe’s most important industry,” an argument also highlighted by the economy ministry led by the CDU’s Peter Altmaier.

According to official statistics, the German car industry employs more than 800,000 people. In terms of turnover, it is the largest manufacturing sector, with sales reaching €400bn in 2015.