After months of intense lobbying, Germany has convinced European Union environmental ministers to keep 2020 new car carbon dioxide emissions standards at 130 grams per kilometer instead of the proposed, stricter 95g/km standard. The German government argued that the tighter regulations would cost jobs and hurt German automakers. BMW and Mercedes-Benz produce larger and heavier cars than other European car companies like Fiat and Renault and they would have a more difficult experience trying to meet the new CO2 standards.
The CO2 standards are a stand-in for fuel economy regulations, with the 95g/km rating the equivalent of fuel consumption of 4 liters pr 100 kilometers (59 U.S. mpg). The EU commission had earlier approved the more rigorous emissions standards, but Germany put together an effective coalition of countries to lobby for the change to be delayed until 2024. The UK and Poland supported the German effort while Belgium, France and Italy backed the 95 g/km standard.
“It was made clear from all sides that we want an ambitious climate-protection goal and, at the same time, it was made clear that in some places more flexibility must be sought and can be found,” German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier told reporters. “In this narrow room for maneuver, we will find a solution in the coming weeks.”
Supporters of the tighter controls were disappointed by the EU’s decision. EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told reporters, “It is not a terrific thing that we could not conclude on cars.”
“It’s an unacceptable price, which will be paid by every European driver in higher fuel bills, by the planet that will warm quicker and potentially by Europe’s auto sector that will be less competitive,” Greg Archer, a program manager at the Transport & Environment advocacy group, said. “The deal struck in June was a reasonable political compromise. Now we go back to the drawing board.”