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ENVIRONMENT

Car industry senses boost

The German car industry is already feeling the first positive effects of an environmental bonus brought in at the beginning of the year, German auto industry association VDA said on Sunday.

Car industry senses boost
Photo: DPA

VDA President Matthias Wissmann told the press in Frankfurt that the “wreck bonus” was already causing a noticeable upturn in new car sales in Germany, although sales figures for January are not yet available.

Under the new rule, which is designed to encourage the sale of newer, more fuel-efficient cars, people who dispose of an at least nine-year-old car this year are entitled to a €2,500 bonus when buying a new car.

“Thanks to the speedy and uncomplicated introduction of the bonus, as well as the new clarity in the CO2-based car tax, customers are able to plan the buying of a new car in the long-term with fewer worries,” Wissmann said.

“People are going back into car dealerships, and the willingness to buy cars is growing,” he continued, “These are encouraging signals of a growing stability in the still difficult domestic automobile market.”

According to the VDA, the average age of cars on German streets is over 8.5 years. If this could be reduced by one year, it is thought that 800 million litres of fuel, or 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, could be saved annually.

ENVIRONMENT

Young activists take German states to court over climate inaction

Campaigners began a legal challenge against five German regions on Monday to force them to take stronger action on climate change, emboldened by a landmark recent court ruling in favour of environmental protection.

Young activists take German states to court over climate inaction
Demonstrators from the Fridays for Future movement protest in Gießen, Hesse, with a sign saying "No wishy-washy, no climate lashing". Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

The plaintiffs are basing their case on a sensational verdict by Germany’s constitutional court in April which found that Germany’s plans to curb CO2 emissions were insufficient to meet the targets of the Paris climate agreement and placed an unfair burden on future generations.

In a major win for activists, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s federal government then brought forward its date for carbon neutrality by five years to 2045, and raised its 2030 target for greenhouse gas reductions.

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On Monday, 16 children and young adults began proceedings against the regions of Hesse, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saarland, with support of environmental NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH).

They are charging that none of the states targeted by the legal action have passed sufficiently strong climate legislation at the local level, according to DUH.

“The federal government can’t succeed on its own,” lead lawyer Remo Klinger said in a press conference, highlighting state competence in the area of transport.

DUH worked closely together with the youth climate movement Fridays For Future to find activists willing to front the challenges, the group said.

Seventeen-year-old plaintiff Alena Hochstadt said the western state of Hesse, known for its Frankfurt banking hub, had always been her home but she feared having “no future here”.

Concern about the risk of “floods, storms and droughts” led her and other campaigners to seek “a legal basis for binding climate protection”.

READ ALSO: Climate change made German floods ‘more likely and more intense’

Hesse’s ministers for climate and the economy said they were “surprised” by the announcement.

“DUH clearly has not yet understood that we in Hesse are well ahead,” Priska Hinz and Tarek Al-Wazir said in a joint statement, drawing attention to an energy future law from 2012, before the Paris climate agreement.

In July, DUH-supported activists took the states of Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Brandenburg to court on similar grounds.

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