Dispute over combustion engines: “This mistrust can be cleared up”

As of: 03/19/2023 9:02 p.m

In the dispute over the end of combustion engines, Environment Minister Lemke insists on an early agreement. The “hanging game” must be ended as soon as possible, she said Report from Berlin. It could be as early as next week.

Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) has called for a speedy agreement in the dispute over the combustion engine. “The misunderstandings between the commissioner and between the transport minister or the FDP must now finally be cleared up,” said Lemke in the Report from Berlin.

She believes that with every day that “this stalemate” lasts longer, trust could be damaged. “Therefore, this deadlock must and should be ended as quickly as possible,” stressed the minister. Lemke spoke of the fact that this “should happen over the course of the next week”.

The EU had to postpone its final decision to phase out combustion engines at the beginning of March because Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP), supported by his party leader Christian Lindner, had vetoed the decision at short notice. The FDP wants to make it legally binding that cars with petrol or diesel engines can still be registered after 2035 if they fill up with synthetic fuels, so-called e-fuels.

According to Lemke, distrust is the reason for the delay

In an interview, Lemke now explained that the federal government had already taken the position in November that they wanted to approve the dossier – including a so-called recital. According to this, a possibility should be created “how even after 2035 vehicles that can only and demonstrably be refueled with e-fuels can be approved outside the car fleet limit values”.

The so-called fleet limits are specifications for manufacturers as to how many greenhouse gases newly built cars are allowed to emit during operation. It is actually planned that this value should drop to zero in 2035, which de facto means the end of new combustion engines. However, there are exceptions, for example for special vehicles such as emergency vehicles or wheelchair-accessible cars.

Lemke went on to say that the entire delay in the procedure was based on the fact that there was obviously distrust in the FDP as to whether the commission would actually implement this proposal promptly and correctly. “I think this distrust can be dispelled – and it must be dispelled,” said the Green politician.

Germany irritates at EU level

Germany’s behavior caused astonishment at EU level, as Lemke himself confirmed. She visited the Council of Environment Ministers last week: “If you sit in the room with your colleagues all day, then of course you see the question marks and irritation on their faces.” That also played a major role outside of the official agenda.

“I believe that if clear decisions are made in the next week, then the damage can at least be repaired,” said Lemke. That is why she is pleading for this to happen in the coming week.

Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD), who sits on the Volkswagen Supervisory Board, added Report from Berlin: “The procedure shouldn’t set a precedent. I think everyone agrees on that.”

Weil sees an advantage in e-cars

Weil emphasized the disadvantage of e-fuels compared to e-cars. “They are very complex to produce and therefore at the end of the day significantly more expensive than the alternative, namely electric mobility,” he said. “As a result, as far as I know, all major automotive groups are fully committed to it in their investment planning.”

However, the Prime Minister emphasized that e-fuels would be needed above all for large modes of transport – especially for trucks, ships and airplanes.

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