The Brussels climate package is causing a stir among politicians, lobbyists, businesses, consumers and motorists. On the home straight, the warnings of high loads are increasing.
The Lower Saxony CDU MEP Jens Gieseke and his staff spent the Pentecost weekend quite differently this year: checking e-mails. Gieseke says that his office is “full to capacity”. The reason for the flood of mail: Brussels wants to ban new cars with combustion engines in the passenger car and small commercial vehicle category from 2035.
In some places, this caused people’s souls to boil and called into action a large number of interest groups in Brussels. The liberal French MEP Pascal Canfin, chairman of the European Parliament’s environment committee, saw a “tsunami of lobbying” sweeping over himself and his colleagues. Gieseke confirms: “The activities are extreme – from all sides. Of course, there is massive lobbying, but not just from the usual suspects. Governments are also out and about influencing their MPs.”
Like his Christian Democrats and parts of the Liberals in Parliament, Gieseke thinks it is wrong to ban combustion engines completely. There must also be a chance for the new, less polluting synthetic fuels, not just for battery-powered e-cars.
The CDU MP does not want to make any predictions about future market prices for modern “e-fuels”, but predicts: “In relation to e-mobility, it will be possible to produce competitively.” Gieseke’s opponent in the European SPD, the MP Tiemo Wölken, gives a courageous estimate: These fuels are “very expensive and not sensible in terms of climate policy. In terms of price, they would end up on the market where the fuel prices are now, they would probably even be a little more expensive.”
Wölken is important to emphasize: “The plans do not mean that existing vehicles have to be shut down.” So nobody should have their conventional car taken away. Since the service life of a car is 15 years on average, by 2050 there could be predominantly zero-emission domestic passenger cars on the road in the EU. Theoretically. In practice, however, what Gieseke calls the “Havana effect” of “forced electrification” could occur: As in Cuba, where decades-old US road cruisers are still chugging today, enthusiasts could cherish and care for their old combustion engines in order to part with them as late as possible.
The end of the internal combustion engine is part of the EU Commission’s comprehensive climate package, which is currently the subject of heated debate in the European Parliament and will be voted on in the middle of the week. After that, the national governments must also take a final position on this. Details of the “Green Deal” by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, which is intended to lead to a climate-neutral EU by 2050, are recorded on several thousand pages. Important interim stage: greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced by at least 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. That is why the legislative package is called “Fit for 55”.
The wealth of individual measures in the most extensive EU environmental legislation of all time goes far beyond the ban on combustion engines and is confusing for non-experts. The debate about this is partly lost in expert Chinese. In an appeal by scientists to MEPs to avert the ban on combustion engines, it says: The climate balance sheet of e-cars is embellished. Because “only the regular electricity mix is used as a basis for calculation”. However, it would be correct to “consider the fossil marginal current in the charging current”. The argumentation of the social democrat Wölken, according to which the train (or the e-car) has already left anyway, is more understandable for laypeople: “The vast majority of car manufacturers have long been on the e-mobility course.”
In addition to road traffic, optimizing the energy balance of buildings is also part of the plans. The green Irish MEP Ciaran Cuffe has the catchy slogan ready: “If we insulate our houses, we also insulate Putin.” gas and oil are dependent.
State administrations should go ahead with the renovation of public real estate. In a later step, residential buildings will also be affected. The CDU MEP Christian Ehler points out that a heat pump, for example, currently costs upwards of 12,000 euros.
In connection with the discussion about a reform of the EU trading system for certificates for the emission of carbon dioxide (Emissions Trading System), the CDU MEP Peter Liese warns of a “price shock in 2024”. The Environment Committee of the European Parliament saddled up on the Commission’s ideas.
Together with his colleagues from the Group of the European People’s Party (EPP) and liberal allies, Liese wants to defuse this last-minute push. If this does not succeed, he hopes that the heads of state and government in the European Council will consider some issues “much more realistically” than some MEPs. Disputes are also to be expected about a new climate tariff for imports from third countries, which is intended to prevent competitive disadvantages for the EU economy through stricter requirements.
Because new burdens from climate protection are imminent not only for industry but also for consumers, although energy prices are already galloping, a social compensation fund is planned. It is to be fed from income from emissions trading. The amount of funds that EU countries can draw from it is calculated, among other things, on the national average income and the number of citizens potentially in need. At least 70 billion euros are planned for 2025 to 2032.
Katrin Langensiepen, German member of the Greens group in the European Parliament, sees the project as a milestone in the fight against so-called “energy poverty”, a problem that is already rampant: “For the first time we are giving a definition of mobility and energy poverty in the Social Climate Fund. By ‘at-risk households’ we mean those already affected and those at risk of falling into poverty” – i.e. the lowest income groups, families, single parents, people in rural areas. Most of the money (17.6 percent) is expected to go to Poland, Germany is likely to receive around 8.2 percent.
The EU Commission admits: “There is a risk that socially disadvantaged households, micro-enterprises and road users will come under more pressure in the short term due to climate strategies.” Klaus-Heiner Lehne, in an interview with the weekly newspaper “Die Zeit”: “If a company were to calculate like the EU Commission, it would probably be called greenwashing.” With a view to climate protection claims in the coming years, it is important to his authority that “To say early on that the Commission needs more clearly defined criteria quickly. By 2027, she wants to invest 30 percent of the EU budget in climate protection.”
“Greenwashing”, green false labeling, is also the keyword in another climate conflict. After political pressure from various directions, the Commission decided to give investments in nuclear power and natural gas infrastructure a conditionally climate-friendly seal of approval. This is intended to send signals to the financial market. But there, according to the responsible expert at the Association of German Banks, Torsten Jäger, the echo is meager: “At the moment we are seeing clear reservations among product providers about classifying gas and nuclear energy as sustainable.”