As the European Commission prepares to unveil detailed legislation on cutting carbon dioxide emissions from cars, France has already set itself up for a battle with Germany on the issue, with French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo criticising a German proposal for a system where heavier cars would be allowed to pollute more than others.
Jean-Louis Borloo told the Financial Times on November 14: “By virtue of the polluter pays principle, those with the biggest pollution should make the biggest progress on cutting emissions.”
German manufacturers have been advocating a system where Europe’s automotive industry would receive differentiated caps according to the weight of the vehicles they produce, thus enabling heavier cars, such as SUVs and luxury models, to exceed a target of 130 grammes of carbon dioxide per kilometre set by the Commission.
German manufacturers typically produce larger, high-performance vehicles, while French and Italian manufacturers specialise in smaller, more fuel-efficient models. “Nothing justifies giving a bigger right to pollute to the buyer of a bigger vehicle,” stated Borloo.
A report by the green NGO Transport & Environment (T&E), published on November 15, reveals that French carmakers have much lower average carbon emissions than German ones (144 g/km versus 173 g/km). Moreover, they also succeeded in cutting their emissions by 1.9% between 2005 and 2006, while German manufacturers actually increased their emissions by 0.6%. Borloo said this German proposal would constrain the market for small vehicles and encourage the production of heavier cars rather than promote innovative technologies aimed at making bigger cars lighter.