EU agreements on car emissions do not go far enough

European cars must emit 35 percent less CO2 in 2030 than they do now. In practice, that means that a large part of the fleet will consist of electric cars. The Netherlands wanted a more ambitious goal, but failed to get it through.

The irritations were felt all day in Luxembourg, where the European Ministers of the Environment met. After the alarming IPCC report on the climate, many ministers wanted an ambitious agreement. The Netherlands demanded 40 percent CO2 reduction, just like the Scandinavian countries, Ireland and Slovenia. France also argued for strict requirements at that time.

But at that time it was already clear that the German Chancellor Merkel was intensively involved in the talks and that she finds 40 per cent a much too high ambition. The German car industry could suffer from strict requirements. German car builders are very good at making cars with a combustion engine, but they have hardly made cars with a battery. This puts the demands of millions of people in danger, says Germany.


Eastern Europe already agreed with Merkel. There is the fear that the electric cars are unaffordable for the population. Germany then sought rapprochement with France and also got that country behind. This allowed the ambition to emit less to 35 percent less.

To their own frustration, the more ambitious countries were sidelined. The Luxembourg secretary of state said he was “speechless” about the course of the meeting. The Danish minister mentioned an earlier proposal that closely resembled the final proposal “a green car that you just need to scratch for a moment to see that it contains an inky layer”.


For the Netherlands, State Secretary Van Veldhoven was at the meeting. “The Netherlands had high ambitions, and the Urgenda judgment shows once again how important it is to do everything possible to combat climate change, going beyond 35 percent.”

The EU has previously agreed in the Paris climate agreement that it will reduce its emissions by 40%, but it is not agreed how this should be done. Now that cars have a less ambitious goal than the Netherlands wanted, the reduction of emissions must come from other sectors.

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