German auto targets are not ambitious enough, say environmental groups
BERLIN – Environmental groups hoping for more radical action to promote electric vehicles were disappointed with Germany’s new coalition deal, saying it fell short of what was needed to achieve the climate goals.
The agreement of the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Liberal Democrats (FDP) included increasing Germany’s target for the number of electric vehicles on the roads by 2030 to at least 15 million and support for the expansion of charging infrastructure.
But key policies that environmentalists had demanded to further reduce emissions – such as a speed limit on freeways and higher taxes on vehicles that emit fossil fuels – were missing, organizations such as the think tank on the climate Agora and the NGO Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH).
A commitment to abide by the European Union’s proposal to effectively ban cars emitting carbon emissions “earlier” than the EU’s 2035 target was seen as too vague.
“The section of the transport sector [of the agreement] violates the climate protection ruling of the federal courts, âsaid DUH, referring to a decision in Germany in May that emissions from the transport sector are expected to be reduced by 50% by 2030.
“With what is written in this agreement, we will not achieve our climate goals,” said Christian Hochfeld, director of the Agora Energiewende think tank.
The German auto industry faces an existential challenge from Chinese and US automakers in the global transition to electric cars.
Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel has come under fire for failing to push the country’s carmakers to adapt faster to the pressures of climate change.
But automakers and politicians have at times faced resistance from unions protecting the roughly 800,000 workers in the industry who fear that a swift and poorly managed transition will cost tens of thousands of jobs.
Yet the presence of the German Greens in the new coalition meant that climate advocates expected clearer policy change, including tougher penalties for the purchase of carbon-emitting cars.
A subsidy of 6,000 to 9,000 euros ($ 10,000) for electric cars is in place until 2025, but the agreement did not say whether it would be extended.
Meanwhile, an existing tax on the consumption of gasoline, fuel oil, coal and natural gas – making combustion-engined cars more expensive – will not be increased, according to the agreement.
“It’s not clear how they will get people to buy those 15 million EVs. You could give people money to buy them, or you can make CO2 more expensive. But they didn’t dare to do it. “said industry expert Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer.
BMW and Daimler hailed the deal’s focus on expanding charging infrastructure, with German auto industry lobby group VDA saying this is an area in which l Germany must “catch up and improve considerably on almost all fronts”.
Still, Bernstein analyst Arndt Ellinghorst said electric vehicle subsidies would not be successful after 2025, as it was ultimately up to the market to come up with more attractive and affordable models.
Signals such as BlackRock’s â¬ 700 million investment in the charging company Ionity showed that private industry was closing the infrastructure gap, Ellinghorst said.
âI don’t think we need the Berlin watering can,â he said. “This must be achieved by consensus among sectors of private industry.”