Written by 4:00 am European Union

European Union environmental regulations are being fought for by Germany’s finance minister

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, allegedly promised to amend upcoming emissions rules, according to Germany’s Porsche-driving finance minister, who is making a last-ditch effort to save the combustion engine.

The federal chancellor and Ursula von der Leyen discussed this, according to Lindner. “This understanding will also translate into actual political action, I have no doubt about it,”

In order to ensure that the use of synthetic fuels, or e-fuels, would be permitted under new EU fuel efficiency standards that will introduce a zero emissions mandate for new car and van sales by 2035, Christian Lindner told POLITICO that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had reached a backroom agreement with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in June.

The Commission declined to respond, citing only a previous statement that does not expressly mention e-fuels and instead makes the vague commitment to introduce new legislation “if appropriate.”

A 2035 EU-wide sales ban on polluting automobiles was agreed upon by EU member states, the European Parliament, and the Commission. This effectively forces the industry to transition to electric or hydrogen vehicles. With a view to reaching an agreement before the start of next year, they are currently negotiating the last few specifics.

Requests for comment from a Scholz representative went unanswered.

In the Council conclusions from June, Germany did manage to smuggle in a reference to e-fuels, but it was in a non-binding appendix and not the main language.

There was a consensus on how to read this and what should be inferred from it. Otherwise, Germany would not have been able to consent to the fleet size restrictions, according to Lindner.

On September 8, Lindner and Transport Minister Volker Wissing met with Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton in Berlin to ask for support for such a last-minute amendment to the draught law. According to a representative who was briefed on the discussion, Lindner asked for support for text modifications that would ensure e-fuels could be utilised in vehicles sold after 2035. In spite of allegations that the legislative annex was just included to give Lindner a symbolic victory, reopening the matter at such a late date remains a red line for the Parliament’s principal negotiator.

E-fuels can replace fossil fuels in conventional engines since they are created by mixing ambient CO2 with hydrogen. Supporters claim that the technology makes fuels climate neutral by removing the same amount of carbon as it emits, saving the internal combustion engine. However, the fuels continue to release harmful nitrogen oxide, casting doubt on their claim to be environmentally friendly. German transport officials chose not to comment.

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