German industry says CO2 emissions target threatens jobs

October 10, 2018 16:11 CET

FRANKFURT — European Union plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles by 35 percent by 2030 pose a threat to Germany as a car-building nation, auto industry association VDA said.

“It is more than regrettable that the majority of member nations did not find the strength to strike a balance between protecting jobs and protecting the climate,” VDA president Bernard Mattes said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Job security is lessened and Germany as an industrial location has been weakened,” said Mattes, a former chief of Ford’s German operations. The VDA represents automakers such as Ford, Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler.

“With yesterday’s vote we missed a chance to shape CO2 regulation for the time after 2021 in an economic and technologically realistic manner,” Mattes said.

EU governments need to take on more of the financial burden of building out networks of charging stations if they wanted swifter adoption of low-pollution electric cars, he said.

EU environment ministers agreed late on Tuesday to seek the 35 percent reduction. Several countries had sought a 40 percent cut, but softened their position during late night negotiations.

Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess warned that the CO2 target could have dire consequences. “An industry can collapse faster than many believe,” Diess told the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Wednesday.

A 40 percent cut in car emissions by 2030 would result in the loss of about a quarter of VW’s factory jobs, or 100,000 positions, Diess said. The 35 percent reduction “doesn’t look much better,” he said.

Revisions clause

German Chancellor Angela Merkel endorsed a deal, describing the reduction target as “defensible,” partly because of the scope for later revising them.

“(There is) a revisions clause for 2021, since the question of how fast we can cut carbon dioxide emissions depends on the extent of market penetration by electric cars or other cars with alternative propulsion systems,” she said. “Under these circumstances I think the agreement is wholly defensible.”

Merkel said the agreement at least provided certainty to European automakers.

In an indication of the depths of divisions in environmentally-minded Germany over the role of its most important export industry, the toughened targets failed to win over the opposition.

“A 35 percent cut is nothing like enough for the challenges of tomorrow,” said Greens leader Anton Hofreiter. “The government must take its foot off the brake in climate matters.”

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