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End of the combustion engine demanded

Many countries in the EU are calling for an end to diesel and petrol cars. They want a concrete phase-out date from the European Union that would put an end to the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines. Germany is staying out of the debate.

In an unofficial letter, a so-called non-paper, various states addressed the European Commission yesterday, Wednesday. They call on the EU to set a phase-out date for internal combustion engines in order to be able to push ahead more quickly with the mobility transition. Among the senders are the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Malta, Ireland, Lithuania and Luxembourg.

According to a study by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), the end of sales of internal combustion vehicles must come by 2025 at the latest in order to keep global warming to around 1.5 degrees. This is the goal set by the international community in the Paris Climate Agreement. According to the paper, hybrid vehicles must also be phased out by 2028.

The non-paper also calls for a stricter limit on CO2 emissions. This would affect hybrids and possibly also electric cars, which in previous studies had significantly higher CO2 emissions than stated on paper.

In connection with the non-paper, Greenpeace transport expert Benjamin Stephan called on Germany to make a concrete statement on the states' plans. Anton Hofreiter (Greens) named the year 2030 as a realistic target for the end of the sale of internal combustion vehicles and is thus clearly behind his European colleagues. The Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) also pleaded for a concrete date, but wants to take another 5 years with the 2035 target.

In fact, comparatively little is happening in Germany when it comes to bans on internal combustion vehicles, for example through stricter rules in environmental zones. The back and forth about diesel driving bans only served to reduce nitrogen oxide levels in order to avoid lawsuits from the German Environmental Aid Association or penalties from the EU. In many other countries in Europe, such as France, the Netherlands and Great Britain, the rules for environmental zones are becoming stricter and stricter and in many places already exclude diesel vehicles with Euro standard 5. There, we are well on the way to moving away from combustion engines. In Germany, there are no stricter regulations. And since the EU limits are now being complied with in many places, there is no urge to take action. Besides, there are more and more cars on German roads. There is no comparison at all with the electric pioneer Norway. In Germany, you have more chance of seeing a Trabant than a Tesla.

How the EU reacts to the non-paper remains to be seen. But it seems increasingly clear. The hours of the combustion engine are numbered. Germany will then have to go along willy-nilly and say goodbye to the beloved diesel.