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EU to VW: Don't worry about CO2 rules
Photo: DPA

EU to VW: Don't worry about CO2 rules

Published: 11 Oct 2012 13:02 GMT+02:00
Updated: 11 Oct 2012 13:02 GMT+02:00

European Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger has written a letter to Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn, assuring him that new EU restrictions on CO2 limits will not harm the auto giant.

New European Union regulations will set a limit on the amount of carbon dioxide that the entire fleet of cars by a particular carmaker is allowed to produce on average. The amount is set at 130 grammes per kilometre by 2015, and 95 grammes per kilometre by 2020.

But carmakers can dodge the limits by building a few electric cars, which will bring down the average emissions for the whole fleet.

In the letter, dated July 6 and quoted in the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Thursday, Oettinger told Winterkorn that "the discussion about our CO2 policy for cars after 2020 will be completely open."

The letter was a reply to a request from Winterkorn to the commissioner, dated July 5, asking him to make sure that VW would not be put at a disadvantage by the new restrictions, which were released on July 11.

"Oettinger has contributed to watering down the climate requirements," Greenpeace climate expert Franziska Achterberg told the paper.

The European Commission is also doing what it can to protect the auto industry in other ways. Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani recently called for Europe's industry to be the bloc's main priority. A joint op-ed written by Oettinger and Tajani in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said that the car industry needs to be protected from "a disproportionate burden."

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Your comments about this article

17:16 October 11, 2012 by IchBinKönig
Nature absorbs 98.5% of the CO2 that is emitted by nature and man. Nature is a totally self-regulating mechanism that dwarfs any mindless effort to ¦quot;control¦quot; the amount of CO2 produced by coal-fired utilities, steel manufacturers, autos and planes, and gasoline fueled lawn mowers, including exhaling two pounds of the stuff every day!

No regulation by man is necessary because CO2 is not a pollutant; it is part of the animal-plant life cycle. Without it, life would not exist on Earth. Increased CO2 in the atmosphere increases plant growth, which is a very good thing during a period of world population growth and an increasing demand for food.
19:12 October 11, 2012 by bbcheen
@IchBinKönig

Are you kidding? Yes CO2 can and is absorbed by the planet's vegetation and oceans. The problem is they cannot absorb it as fast as we produce it. Global warming is a natural phenomenon that has been cyclically occurring for thousands of years. So why the fuss? Thanks to us, its occurring at a rate faster then ever before. Leaving organisms all over no time to adapt to the changing conditions (especially a warmer, increasingly acidic ocean). But then again, you probably don't believe in evolution either.
20:23 October 11, 2012 by herr_james
@IchBinSmokingCrack

yes, nature is a self-regulating mechanism. unfortunately for humans (yes, women are part of the equation too) if we over-pollute, nature will self-regulate our population down.

any population in a closed system which creates so much waste that resources required for life (clean air, water, food) are reduced, will eventually decline.

feel free test your theory by running the car in the garage with just you and a pot-plant locked in. let me know how that works out for you.
21:08 October 11, 2012 by FrankfurtFred
@ herr_james,

It's interesting that the environmental lobby (and I'm not grouping you in this category as I don't know your full views), are very vocal about man-made pollution from cars, power generation etc., on the grounds that it's unsustainable, however I don't here too many arguments from the same side against other human interventions that also impact nature's ability to self-regulate. For example medical and other scientific advances that reduce infant mortality, fight disease, improve the supply of food, prolong life etc, could also be contributing to the same problem, i.e. more people competing for scarce natural resources.

Are "positively perceived" scientific advancements contributing to a lack of sustainability as much as "negatively perceived" developments? Discuss!
09:44 October 12, 2012 by pjnt
@ichbinkonig

Although co2 is not a major greenhouse gas molecularly, as apposed to some, say, CFC's, the sheer quantity produced makes it the biggest influence on our natural system, that we currently are aware of. Co2 absorbed by land plants as they grow, but 99.9% of the time when the plant dies, that gas is released. Only rarely does it get trapped and converted into things like oil. Co2 absorbed in water based plant form or dissolved co2, which contains virtually all the planets co2 takes time. The micro organisms which build their nifty little shells out of the co2 can only work so fast. Also, the dissolved co2 comes from erosion, which is a geological process which takes a great deal of time.

The great problem is the system is over saturated. The natural systems are not keeping up. The biggest concern I can see so far is the acidity of the oceans will slowly increase as more co2 is absorbed. Should the plant and animal life which deals with ~90% of the produced co2 can not adapt to this increase in acidity, we are totally, without any hope, buggered. Their populations will decrease and not increase with the abundance of extra 'food'.

I agree that human input is quite small in the whole natural cycle. I think a fraction of 1% of all the greenhouse gasses can be linked to human activity. Thing is, it might be enough to upset the system and make it uninhabitable to humans.
14:06 October 12, 2012 by herr_james
@FrankfurtFred while i'm stunned by the reasonableness of your reply (checks, still on local site) i'll try to tell you what i know.

there are quite a few groups concerned with the contributing factors you've mentioned. maybe GE crops just don't sound as apocalyptic (wait until you see what they do to the locusts), or perhaps the science is not so easily reduced into a black and white playing field for politicians to kick footballs back and forth on.

unless you're a farmer, you probably wouldn't have been exposed to any information regarding the use of pesticides, fertilisers, modified crops or sustainable farming practices vs. supply and demand ethics.

if you are interested, there is at least one fairly solid-sounding international group concerned with the food-side of sustainability, i know of (and i'm sure there are many others). google "slow-food". they have a german branch with very well-educated and helpful team organising talks & promoting concern for sustainable practices in this field.
14:58 October 12, 2012 by honeybeee
Although EU energy department quite protect the german auto giants, german whole auto industry already quite have self-awareness to protect enviroment and try to creat a more green new auto system .Schaeffler -----german auto car- parts maker , already think protecting the environment is their responsibilty and cant be procrastinated.The Schaeffler recent periodical is entitled 'Driving Towards a Sustainable Future' and looks at a series of engineering solutions developed by Schaeffler that are helping manufacturers of traditional combustion engine-powered vehicles to produce more compact, lightweight vehicles that deliver improved fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions. Schaeffler¦#39;s increasing mismatch between energy consumption and available resources, together with tighter legal restrictions on pollution, is creating an increased demand for improvements to existing automotive technologies and the development of 'greener' alternatives. The whole german auto industry is improving at this point and will be far less concerned to reach EU¦#39;s CO2 rules¦#39; deadline .
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