German lawmakers want EU to switch to emission-free cars by 2030

© Fabrizio Bensch
The upper house of the German parliament, the Bundesrat, has adopted a resolution which urges the EU Commission as well as the EU Parliament to create conditions for a Europe-wide switch to emission-free cars “not later than in 2030.”

The Bundesrat asked the commission “to review the current practices of taxation and dues with regard to stimulation of the use of emission-free cars in the [EU] member states” and to “present proposals concerning the imposition of new taxes and dues,” which would ensure that “only emission-free cars will be registered in the EU not later than in 2030.”

The non-binding resolution that includes these proposals received cross-party support and was passed by the Bundesrat on September 23. The upper house of the German parliament also urged the EU to harmonize all motor vehicle duties and introduce higher taxes on combustion-engine and diesel cars.

The Bundesrat’s decision was immediately welcomed by the opposition Green Party, which at the same time came forward with similar but even more radical proposals. It suggested stopping sales of new combustion-engine cars by 2030 in its program paper ahead of a party meeting in November.

“If the Paris agreement to curb climate-warming emissions is to be taken seriously, no new combustion-engine cars should be allowed on roads after 2030,” Oliver Kritscher, the deputy head of the Green Party faction in the lower house of the German parliament, told Der Spiegel daily, referring to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change that is due to take effect in November 2016.

“There is no way to avoid [the advancement] of electromotive cars – not only in terms of climate protection but also in terms of competitiveness of the German auto industries,” the party’s co-chairman, Cem Oezdemir, said, as quoted by Suddeutsche Zeitung daily.

At the same time, the party’s second co-chair, Simone Peter, said that those who want to tie the future development of the German industry to protection of the environment should now set “ambitious framework conditions.”

The Bundesrat’s initiative was also welcomed by the German environment minister, Barbara Hendricks, who said that the German auto industry should meet new challenges in time. In early September, she presented similar proposals in her ‘Integrated Environmental Program 2030’, in which she said that “in 2030, the newly purchased autos should be emission-free.”

Auto industry hits back

German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt called all these proposals “nonsense.”“It would be wrong to fuel expectations that are absolutely unrealistic,” he said, as quoted by Deutsche Welle.

The German auto industry also reacted skeptically to the new environmental initiatives by saying that it is wrong to make unfounded statements concerning the deadlines of the introduction of new technologies.

The Bundesrat only demanded a harmonization of motor vehicle taxes, said the president of the German Auto Industry Association (VDA), Matthias Wissman, adding that “it is misleading to draw a conclusion from this initiative that the Bundesrat demands a politically binding ban on combustion engine autos.”

The VDA also denounced the initiative as “misplaced both in terms of environmental and industrial policy.”

The ADAC automobile club, which is the biggest association of its kind both in Germany and in Europe, also opposed the Bundesrat’s initiative by saying that the focus should instead be on more active support of the development of emission-free technologies to make them more competitive at the market.

“A beachhead in the auto industry requires longstanding international efforts in the fields of science, economy and politics to be successful,” the ADAC said, as quoted by German HAZ daily.

Under the Paris Agreement, Germany should cut its CO2 emissions by 95 percent by 2050. Climate researchers claim that reducing car emissions could play a major role in achieving this goal as emissions from vehicles constitute one fifth of the total amount of CO2 emissions in modern Germany.

At the same time, Germany managed to cut CO2 emissions from cars only by 2 percent since 1995, as reported by Suddeutsche Zeitung.