Friday, March 21, 2008

Big Polluters Like Porsche or Rolls-Royce Have to Change

Today Europe's environment chief Stavros Dimas said that he personally sympathised with a plea made on the BBC recently by the former Shell boss Sir Mark Moody-Stuart.

In a Green Room article he urged the EU to set minimum standards for car efficiency in the same way they set minimum standards for fridges. He suggested totally banning cars that manage less than 35 mpg.

That would mean big polluters like Porsche or Rolls-Royce would have to radically change the way they make their cars or be banned from sale.

Mr Dimas said there was a clear ethical case for this argument - but that Europe had to protect its own industries too - and would stick by the current policy of asking manufacturers to produce 130g of CO2/km across the fleet.

Backtracking under pressure by the automotive lobby, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has done a complete climate change U-turn. According to the Times, “I will be standing up particularly for jobs in Germany’s car sector,” she said, under pressure from manufacturers such as Mercedes, Audi and Porsche which face big fines if they do not reduce exhaust emissions substantially.

According to Mr Moody-Stuart: " Without regulation to channel their power, markets will not deliver things which are of no immediate benefit to the individual making his or her choice, even though they may be beneficial to society."

This really is becoming a war between protecting the old economic industries and moving on to protect the planet. But can governments really afford to dig their heels in the ground?