Politicians would make terrible magicians. That’s my conclusion after reading a new proposal that sets out how Europe should meet its fuel economy targets for all new cars.
The German government’s proposal is an attempt to con the rest of Europe into playing into the hands of car companies like BMW and Daimler. These guys want to keep lucrative gas-guzzling cars on the road for years ahead. The rest of Europe should boo them off the stage.
With a clumsy trick unworthy of even an amateur magician, the German government wants to allow its carmakers to pretend to reduce their average car emissions by counting imaginary sales of cleaner vehicles to offset against sales of higher-polluting cars.
What’s worse, carmakers would be allowed to bank these imaginary emission reductions now and use them in 2020 to lower their average when the new target kicks in. So while CO2 emissions would meet reduction targets on paper, in reality they’d be way off the mark.
Warping CO2 emissions in this way is a licence to pollute more. While premium carmakers would celebrate, the environment would pay and fuel bills would continue to rise. We’d be tied to our dependence on oil and Europe’s leadership on cleaner cars would vanish in a puff of smoke. Literally.
But they can’t fool me. Europe will decide this month whether to act in our interests or the interests of car bosses. In March, 500,000 of us helped force VW into an about-turn and support the legislation straight up and in full – without using a magic wand. Now that is something truly spectacular.
Despite the smokes and mirrors of the German government's proposal, what Europe needs is clear: a strong, long-term commitment that fast-tracks the emergence of cleaner engine technologies, provides green jobs and weans us off oil.
Together let’s demand that the rest of Europe stands up to the German proposal and votes for cleaner cars in reality and not just on paper. That really would be magic. Add your name here.