EU deal on 35% CO2 reduction: different reactions
The EU compromise on 35% CO2 reduction in 2030, concluded by the European Environmental Ministers in Luxembourg on Thursday, raised a storm of reactions ranging from ‘too little and disappointing’ over ‘acceptable and feasible’ to ‘unrealistic and dangerous’. An overview.
German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, initially wanted to stick to the 30% proposal of the European Commission but declares now to be happy with the compromise of 35%. That was the result of a 13-hour long reunion of the ministers. “I think the agreement is acceptable”, she said, “and without an agreement there would be no clear perspective where to go and that would have been a bad signal.”
Car industry negative
The German automotive association, VDA, is less positive and has declared that the agreement is “not realistic and dangerous for employment”. “The European car industry will even be suffering more from competition”, says Bernhard Mattes, VDA president, “and that endangers many jobs and a number of production sites.”
Also Erik Jonnaert, Secretary-general of ACEA, the association of European Manufacturers, warns: “While the compromise of 35% is at least less aggressive than the proposal of the EU Parliament (40%), the risk of a negative impact is high. All manufacturers are already investing a lot in alternative electric propulsion for cars and vans.”
ACEA supports the incentives to boost the sales of electric or hybrid cars, but thinks they are not very realistic. Jonnaert calls on all European institutions to conclude a final agreement that protects the environment and the industry. “We can’t let out of sight an affordable and comfortable mobility for all customers”, he concludes.
The Netherlands head a group of disappointed countries
Together with countries like Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Luxembourg and Slovenia the Netherlands signed a joint statement where they declare being disappointed that the 40% reduction by 2030 proposed by the European parliament was not withheld. They still hope that the discussions between Parliament and member states (started on Wednesday) will lead to a higher reduction percentage.
Initially France and Belgium were also part of this group in favour of the 40% reduction, but Chancellor Merkel called president Macron of France and Prime-Minister Michel of Belgium to persuade them to accept a compromise in the middle between the 30% (Commission proposal) and 40% (EU Parliament vote).
Merkel feared that if she would be a hard-liner for the 30% all the way, there could be an alternative coalition in the making forcing even more stringent measures.
40% reduction is possible
Car technology researcher, Mark Pecqueur, teaching at the Thomas More Hogeschool (Belgium), is not surprised that the car industry is so negative.
“If they want to reach this 40% target manufacturers will have to build smaller, more efficient and less powerful engines and include a certain amount of electric cars in their portfolio. The -40% is not calculated on every single model but on the average emission of the whole fleet of vehicles one is producing.”
Hydrogen Europe’s best bet
Nevertheless, Pecqueur is not persuaded that electrification is the only way to go. “For electric cars you are forced to use a lot of rare metal materials and secondly you get very dependent of the Chinese while they have practically all resources in the field and are also the biggest battery producers.
That’s why in the long run hydrogen can be an alternative, not only for fuel cells but also by simply burning it. As an engineer I don’t understand why there is no interest for the latter solution.” Meanwhile he thinks the diesel engine has still a role to play as an intermediate to non-fossil combustion because a modern diesel engine is now very clean and produces less CO2.
“If car manufacturers want to pay the cost for diesel adaptation, this type of engine can still be useful, but there is also perception, if the consumer doesn’t want the diesel anymore and/or is getting unsure about its future, the diesel is dead for passenger cars.”