LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) – European Union environment ministers will seek a compromise on Tuesday over how tough to be on curbing carbon dioxide emissions from cars and vans, with Germany warning too tough targets could harm industry and cost jobs.
Cars are seen at Leipziger Strasse street, which could be affected by a court hearing on case seeking diesel cars ban in Berlin, Germany, October 8, 2018. The word reads ‘air pollution monitoring.’ REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
In a clash between concerns over the environmental risk of emissions and industry competitiveness, EU governments are divided over what 2030 limits to impose on Europe’s powerful carmakers.
Germany, with its big auto sector, has backed the EU executive proposing a 30 percent reduction by 2030, compared to 2021 levels.
“After the IPCC report yesterday that is not easy. But it is a position we all agreed on,” German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze told reporters on her way to the meeting in Luxembourg.
The meeting comes a day after the release of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warned that societies would have to make “unprecedented” changes to meet a lower global warming target.
France, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are among countries pushing for a stricter limit of 40 percent, in line with climate targets backed by EU lawmakers last week.
“Everyone is calling for action after the report from climate experts, and we now have a chance to find an agreement that is the most dynamic possible, the most ambitious possible,” said French Minister for the Environment, Francois de Rugy.
TOO CLOSE TO CALL
EU regulators have been galvanized into setting tougher rules by Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) admission in 2015 that it had masked exhaust emissions using software in as many as 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide.
In response to a recent EU study that showed carmakers cheating new pollution checks, the bloc’s lawmakers added an amendment requiring figures to be verified against on-road tests.
Under the plan, carmakers would be able to lower their CO2 targets by meeting a benchmark for the sale of zero- and low-emission vehicles as a share of their total new car sales.
Pushing to reach an agreement among the bloc’s 28 nations at the Luxembourg meeting on Tuesday, Austria, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, has proposed a compromise of 35 percent reduction in emissions by 2030.
“It’s too close to call,” said Greg Archer, an expert with Brussels-based campaign group Transport & Environment.
If they reach an agreement, negotiations on the final law could begin with the EU’s two other lawmaking bodies as early as Wednesday.
EU sources said that more-populated Germany, with the backing of eastern European nations, may have the votes needed for a majority at the meeting.
The limits in the transport sector – the only one in which emissions are still rising – aim to help the bloc meet its overall goal of reducing greenhouse gases by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis; Additional reporting by Peter Maushagen in Brussels; Editing by Alissa de Carbonnel/Toby Chopra and Emelia Sithole-Matarise