The final countdown to a decision on law for cleaner cars

Posted by Elena Polisano — 24 June 2013 at 10:01am - Comments
Norman Baker Lewes
All rights reserved. Credit: Greenpeace / Dan Giannopoulos

Another day another attempt to kill a clean car law in its tracks.

Or so it seems. Because only the other week I wrote about the German government’s last ditch attempt to sabotage a law that will cut CO2 emissions from cars and provide 400,000 new jobs by 2030 across Europe. Now they're back with round two. No prizes for guessing that they’ve gone for stamina over originality.

Behind the German position is the weight of car company pressure. Weak laws to pacify firms like BMW and Daimler would protect their profits, keep gas guzzlers on the road, make a mockery of our climate commitments and punish drivers with high fuel costs. It’s up to our governments to act in our interests and not succumb to corporate bullying.

The good news is last week the UK did the right thing and helped to block the German government whose proposal became instant scrap paper. The bad news is that they are down but not out. At the last moment it emerged that the German delegation had released another new plan to undermine all meaningful efforts to cut CO2 emissions from new cars. I feel like I’m repeating myself.

As the last biscuit was wolfed down in the final moments of a meeting to agree a joint position on the new car law, the German delegation surprised its European colleagues. Despite failing to convince others to support its luxury car industry, it brandished a new proposal to delay CO2 savings from cars by 3-4 years. There is a real chance that in the melee of eleventh hour amendments and lack of snacks, the Germans might get what they want by virtue of bamboozling their counterparts.

Given that our government has pledged to wipe out emissions from new cars by 2040, and harbours ambitions to become the global leader in low carbon vehicles, it is obvious that the UK government must reject the German proposal to protect its credibility – and the climate.

This broken record should end today when we will find out whether politicians across Europe meekly follow the lobbying of the German car industry or stand up for the climate and green jobs.

Today Transport Minister Norman Baker will have to decide the UK position on CO2 emissions for cars. The answer must start with, “As I said last time…” He must oppose the German position and commit to robust and ambitious CO2 emission targets. The UK government did it once, it must do it again.

I hope I’m not writing the same blog next week.

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