VDA: Europe needs a balance between climate protection and competition

    Berlin, March 03, 2020

    Concentrate on investments and innovations – Further tightening of CO2 targets will remove companies’ planning security – Electric mobility must be ramped up across Europe and not restricted to a few countries

    The German automotive industry is already making a huge effort to reduce CO2 emissions from new vehicles. The manufacturers and suppliers already contribute to making traffic in Europe climate-neutral by the year 2050. However, we must always take all three aspects – the ecological, the economic and the social – into account when considering sustainability.

    The EU’s Climate Law now passed by the European Commission defines the objective of making the EU climate-neutral by 2050. Now the crucial factor will be the specific measures it proposes during the ongoing legislative process for the European Green Deal enabling us to achieve this very ambitious goal. Unfortunately, the Commission implicitly proposes tightening up the EU’s climate target for 2030 to a reduction of either 50 or 55 percent (until now the target was a 40 percent reduction). We take an extremely critical view of this. The very ambitious fleet targets for 2030 have only just been passed. Even stricter limits would remove all corporate planning security. Instead of now planning to tighten the CO2 requirements, suitable and effective instruments and measures should be applied in order to achieve the already extremely ambitious targets in 2030.

    To do this Europe needs, more than anything else, massive investment in the expansion of the charging and filling infrastructure for alternative powertrains. At present, too few Member States are investing in charging points. If we are heading for a “two-speed Europe” when it comes to electric mobility, companies will not even be able to satisfy the EU fleet targets for 2030, let alone an even stricter target. Electric mobility must not be restricted to certain urban regions in a few economically strong EU Member States. We need to ramp-up electric mobility right across Europe – in particular for climate protection reasons. The European Commission has to take action here. In addition, the necessary regulatory framework must be swiftly put in place to make alternative fuels available as well.

    An expedient strategy for achieving the climate targets would also include extending European emissions trading to include the transport sector. The VDA would explicitly welcome such a move. Capping emissions can effectively reduce CO2 output from vehicles because trading in certificates bolsters the market-based approach and enables it to drive technical innovation forward. Furthermore, the system would include the existing fleet.

    The EU’s Climate Law will offer an opportunity to take effective climate action if it applies market-economy instruments and allows technical innovations to exert their effects. This means that the EU should concentrate on investments, innovations and the market economy. There is still room for improvement in this part of the EU’s climate policy.

    All the proposed measures should be subjected to a thorough impact assessment – of their ecological, economic and social terms aspects. We need an exact picture of how the complete package of measures will affect innovations, competitiveness and jobs in Europe. Global competitiveness must also be taken into consideration. The EU’s climate policy must therefore always have an eye to the developments in other countries. It is a good thing for the EU to assume a pioneering role. As mentioned in the European Green Deal, it will be key for the EU to work actively toward creating a worldwide level playing field. That is the only way for the EU to make the right preparations for achieving climate-neutral transport by 2050.