Germany Wants Softer Car-CO2 Law as Ministers Seek Deal

Germany’s environment minister, Peter Altmaier, said the European Union must be flexible in implementing rules to curb emissions from cars that Chancellor Angela Merkel blocked earlier this year.

“It’s about finding enough flexibility, and we’re in talks about that,” Altmaier told reporters before a meeting of his EU counterparts in Luxembourg today. “I’m convinced we can find a result; we can find it within the next weeks, and we will talk about that today.”

The measure was put on the agenda of a quarterly meeting of environment ministers in Luxembourg today after Germany, which wants to delay the introduction of carbon curbs to defend jobs, built a coalition against a preliminary deal on the law. The proposal would cap average carbon discharges by passenger vehicles in the bloc at 95 grams a kilometer in 2020 through varying targets for individual manufacturers ranging from Volkswagen AG to General Motors Co.

Germany wants to introduce a gradual phase-in of the proposed emission curbs, according to an EU document obtained by Bloomberg News. It wants the law to be fully applicable to all new cars only in 2024, according to the document, which was submitted by Germany in negotiations about the draft legislation before the ministerial meeting.

The EU is trying to reconcile its ambitions to lead the global fight against climate change with efforts to help the region’s economy recover from a recession. Current EU rules require carmakers to cut discharges to 130 grams a kilometer on average in 2015 and set a non-binding goal of 95 grams for 2020.

New Cars

To determine each manufacturer’s average specific emissions, 80 percent of its new cars should be taken into account in 2020, rising to 90 percent in 2022 and 95 percent in 2023, under the German proposal.

Governments are unlikely to vote on the draft law today, according to two EU officials with knowledge of the talks. The original version is still short of a qualified majority and ministers will probably discuss procedures that could be used to facilitate a compromise in the coming weeks, the officials said. That could include authorization for further talks with the European Parliament, whose approval is also needed for the draft law to be adopted, they said.

“It’s not about deciding a few days earlier or later, it’s about finding an agreement that’s backed by a broad majority of member states,” Altmaier said. “An agreement that on the one hand advances environmental protection and on the other hand respects also the interests of the European industry compared to competitors abroad.”

Ministers are also set to discuss the EU position for United Nations’ climate talks at the meeting today and receive information from the European Commission on the International Civil Aviation Organization’s decision on a global carbon market.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.