Monday, November 29

Study: Car manufacturers can only achieve climate targets through back doors

What climate protection is all about and how exhausting the struggle for improvements is was probably shown most clearly by the Briton Alok Sharma at the weekend. The head of the World Climate Conference in Glasgow came to tears at the end of the long days: There was a negotiation result, he said, but it was not as sharp as necessary to get global warming and its effects on the world under control. He must apologize for this.

But it is not just the ongoing coal-fired power generation in developing countries that threatens the fight against global warming. The switch to electromobility in the European Union also runs the risk of being dragged off, warns the Transport and Environment (T&E) organization, which brings together several dozen European environmental and mobility associations. “Daimler, Volkswagen AG and BMW advertise themselves as environmentally friendly, but behind this facade they use every little loophole to delay the switch to emission-free vehicles,” says Stef Cornelis, Director of T&E Germany. If the applicable EU rules weren’t so weak, then the vehicle manufacturers would actually have to sell 840,000 more electric vehicles this year – at the expense of combustion vehicles, according to a T&E analysis carried out by the Süddeutsche Zeitung was submitted in advance.

Cars are currently responsible for 13 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions in the European Union and emissions should be reduced: An industry-wide target of 95 grams of CO₂ per kilometer and vehicle is currently in place, which corresponds to 3.6 liters of diesel or 4.1 liters of gasoline. According to the figures for the first half of the year, according to T&E, it shows that the German manufacturers adhered to and even exceeded the limit values, also because sales of CO₂-free electric cars have increased so significantly – only the VW Group with all its brands is struggling still. But the supposed successes are often only possible through back doors that make the situation look good, T&E criticizes. The criticism: plug-in hybrids, i.e. cars that can also run a bit with an electric motor, and special rules for heavy cars.

Vehicles in the EU weighed an average of 1380 kilograms when the rule was enacted. But for every 100 kilograms more weight, there is currently a bonus of 3.3 grams of CO₂ per kilometer. At BMW, for example, the CO₂ fleet target was last at 104 grams – they managed 99. But that was only possible because the numerous sales of plug-in hybrids were also given high credit, according to T&E: On paper, they consume a lot little petrol and diesel and are even weighted more heavily when calculating the fleet limit value. But in fact, such hybrid vehicles are at least twice as dirty as in theory, because users switch to combustion engines too often. If these and other “loopholes” that masked over ten percent of the CO₂ value were eliminated, then, according to T&E calculations, both BMW and Daimler would break the limit.

The hurdles are increasing, but not enough, says T&E. The organization is also calling for all the bonuses to be removed, so that the pressure to build and sell pure electric cars increases. The traffic light parties should also advocate for this in their coalition agreement, as well as for an end to combustion engines in the EU in 2035. Meanwhile, from industry it is said: With hybrid drives, it depends on the users and the charging infrastructure. The weight bonus is there because the effort to be made is greater and, like the hybrid bonus, would melt away anyway. Incidentally, they are well on schedule – albeit with different omens. BMW, for example, has declared that it will be ready for a complete burnout from 2030, although this is not necessarily a good idea. Daimler, on the other hand, explicitly wants to only sell electric cars from 2030 – and recently signed a corresponding declaration in Glasgow.

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