* Limited number of 'supercredits' spur innovation
* Too many would mean conventional cars do not get cleaner
By Barbara Lewis
BRUSSELS, Feb 18 Germany's tactics to safeguard
its output of big, luxury cars threaten a planned target for
European Union limits on vehicle carbon emissions by 2020 and
could also jeopardise any future ambitions, a document from the
bloc's executive said.
Proposals from the German government and German Christian
Democrat politician Thomas Ulmer undermine attempts to enforce a
95 grams of CO2 per km (g/km) emission ceiling on cars by 2020,
according to the Commission document seen by Reuters on Monday.
EU politicians are divided between those keen for rigorous
green standards and those seeking flexibility.
The German car industry and Ulmer, who is leading debate on
the car law continuing in the European Parliament this week,
have been at the forefront of demands for increased allocation
of so-called supercredits.
These allow manufacturers to produce cars that exceed the EU
target if they also make very low emission electric or hybrid
The Commission says a certain number of supercredits (a
maximum of 20,000 per manufacturer) could support innovation,
but too many would be counterproductive because that could
prevent conventional cars from becoming any less polluting.
The internal Commission document, seen by Reuters, looked at
four scenarios based on the German proposals - which would set
no limit on supercredits - and found they would mean emissions
in a range of 99 g/km to 123 g/km - compared with the EU goal of
95 g/km on average across all new EU vehicles by 2020.
As a result, it said, they would lead to "substantial
increases in CO2 emissions and oil use" as well as "significant
increases in consumer fuel costs and resulting decreases in
There would also be knock-on effects. Because the
supercredits would delay achievement of the 95 gram target, the
German proposals would "have implications for the ability to set
further CO2 targets".
Germany dominates the premium car segment, with
manufacturers including BMW, Mercedes and Audi.
By contrast, proposals by British Liberal Member of the
European Parliament Fiona Hall and Spanish Socialist MEP Eider
Gardiazabal give an incentive for very low emissions vehicles,
but have only "a limited impact on the effective CO2 target".
As a result, "their impact on consumer fuel costs and GDP is
also rather limited," the Commission paper said.
The scenarios give a range of deviation from the Commission
target, depending on how many supercredits are earned through
the production of ultra-low emission vehicles.
Greg Archer, a programme manager at campaign group Transport
& Environment, predicted 10-15 g/km in excess of the 95 gram
goal was likely, given ambitious German targets for electric
"The effect will be fewer jobs created, higher fuel bills
for drivers and more CO2 released," he said. "Yes, we want to
encourage electric vehicles, but we don't want to encourage
electric vehicles if that means conventional cars don't get any
The Commission declines to comment on unpublished documents.
None of the Members of the European Parliament involved was
immediately available for comment.
(Editing by Anthony Barker)