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Germany to EU: Stuff Your Auto Emissions Standards


There are principles, and then there are economic interests—and they don’t always overlap. Germany has been doing its utmost to demonstrate that it has no illusions on this score by lobbying hard to prevent the EU from pushing through a set of lower CO2 emission standards.

These new standards would stipulate that companies reduce their fleet-wide CO2 emissions from 130 grams to 95 grams per kilometer by 2020. Given that Germany’s auto industry is heavily invested in the comparatively inefficient luxury segment, these regulations would hurt competitiveness in a big way. 

After a personal plea from Angela Merkel to Ireland’s Enda Kenny (who is the current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency), the standards were silently removed from the agenda of today’s meeting, where they were set to be ratified. Other EU leaders are none too pleased, according to the FT:

France, Italy, Denmark and others were mounting a furious counter-attack on Thursday morning after learning of the Irish decision.

The fight over the emissions legislation has added an extra wrinkle of tension to the two-day summit beginning on Thursday.

We’ll see if the fury of the also-rans of Europe amounts to much, but they’ve got a high hill to climb. Germany is cementing its leadership role in the EU on the back of its solid economic performance. What Germany wants, it seems to get, one way or another, and whether it makes sense or not.

But it’s also a quiet confirmation of the primacy of economic factors that greens never seem to internalize: no country will willingly fall on its sword to save the planet. No one is disputing that, among developed nations, Germans are among the most committed to green causes. But they’re not going to gut their auto industry just to meet arbitrary emissions standards set by unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels.

[Traffic image courtesy of Hung Chung Chih/]

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  • S.C. Schwarz

    “no country will willingly fall on its sword to save the planet”

    Isn’t that what Obama just did?

    • f1b0nacc1

      While it is likely that he doesn’t understand this, Obama is NOT the US…

  • Ilma

    What all the EU bureaucrats fail to understand is that energy is at the root of economic prosperity, and ONLY economically prosperous nations work to better the environment. The drive to hurt industry by these obsessive CO2 regulations, not just for car mfrs but also in driving up energy prices, will have a negative environmental impact, not a positive one.

    The point SC Schwaz made about Obama is apt, as even though he’s US and not EU, he has just committed economic suicide, assuming he pushes through all the objectives he made in this week’s speech. Merkel is conscious that Germany cannot afford to tread that same path.

    • bigfire

      Environmentalist will embrace any alternative energy plan, except the ones that works. That takes true faith.

      • bpuharic

        Those of us who grew up near Donora, PA, however, give environmentalism a bit more latitude.

        • Lyle7

          Who isn’t an environmentalist?

          The problem is you have to have something that replaces as our current fossil fuel based global economy with something else that doesn’t impoverish mankind. And you know that an impoverished mankind can’t do jack about the environment.

  • Atanu Maulik

    When push comes to shove, green faithful are ditching their green gods very quickly. Their faith seems pretty weak.

    • Corlyss

      That’s only the fellow travelers. The confirmed climatereligion crazies still have their hands on the policy-making institutions in Europe and will not go till you pry their cold dead hands off and drive a stake thru their tiny tyrannical hearts.

  • bpuharic

    “Germany is cementing its leadership role…on the back of solid economic performance”.

    And its 30% unionized workforce. Funny how often that gets missed.

    • Corlyss

      Don’t worry. It won’t last. In 50 years unions there and here will be as rare as buggy whip factors are today.

      • bpuharic

        Sorry, it’ll go the other way. Africans and Asians will have learned the rapacious ways of the 1% and will have formed unions of their own.

    • Lyle7

      30%… I wonder if that number is higher or lower than it used to be.

      • bpuharic

        It’s 400% higher than the US. Pretty dramatic test of the failure of right wing economics that unions are always bad.

  • Corlyss

    Since Germany is EU’s lender of first resort, too bad they can’t leverage that to endorse fracking.

  • Lyle7

    Germany won’t scheisse on their auto industry, but they will scheisse on their nuclear industry so that they have to import more fossil fuels from Russia.

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