For the past three months straight, we’ve seen global temperature records broken as the world’s carbon dioxide concentration rockets towards a point where 400 parts per million is no-longer a maximum but a baseline point. Coming on top of of seven months in a row where global temperatures are at least 1℃ above the 1951-1980 mean temperature for that month, it’s becoming blatantly clear that as a species, we need to cut global emissions or face the direst of consequences.
One of the easiest ways to cut global emissions is to reduce the carbon footprint of our personal transportation, which is why governments around the world have been pushing automakers to meet ever-tighter emissions and fuel economy targets. But while reducing tailpipe emissions will play a part in lowering total global emissions, it’s becoming more and more apparent that cutting them completely is really the only option left.
For that to happen a mass switch away from the internal combustion engine to zero-emission electric vehicles powered by renewable energy is the most logical choice. And while many environmentalists and electric vehicle advocates have shared that view for many years, we’re now starting to see governments around the world adopt that opinion too.
The first is Norway, which is currently pushing a bill through its legislature to ban the sale of all new internal combustion engine vehicles by 2025. A nation known for its generous electric car incentive program (and consequently its massive electric car adoption rate) Norway’s wish to become zero emission as soon as possible is hardly surprising.
But now it seems Germany could follow suit. At least, it will if Rainer Baake, deputy economy minister for the German Government has his way.
As Automotive News (subscription required) reported yesterday, the Baake told attendees at a climate forum hosted by German-newspaper Tagesspiegel in Berlin this week that Germany needed to make all new cars registered in the country emissions free by 2030 at the very latest in order to meet the country’s pollution reduction goals.
Part of its pledge under the latest Paris climate agreement, Germany has promised to reduce its overall carbon dioxide output by between 80 percent and 95 percent by 2050. While there other other polluters that will need to tackle their emissions in order to meet those targets, Baake said that transportation pollution will need to be dramatically slashed for the country to have any chance of hitting its target.
“Fact is there’s been no reduction at all in CO² emissions by transport since 1990,” he told those present. “We don’t have any answers to cut truck emissions right now but we do have answers for cars.”
While Baake’s statement isn’t an indicator that the German Government will adopt his views, it would certainly help Germany deal with its current attempts to cut greenhouse gas emissions — which are currently well behind target. As Automotive News notes, while Germany has committed to reducing emissions by 40 percent by 2020 compared with 1990s levels, it hasn’t really done much historically to push for the adoption of electric cars.
Given Germany is Europe’s number one market for photovoltaic solar panels and renewable microgeneration energy, it makes sense to rectify that problem quickly.
But since Germany has only just committed to providing its citizens with incentives to help lower the cost of buying a plug-in car and increase sales figures, achieving Baake’s wish may prove particularly difficult.
Indeed, with 30 million gasoline cars and 14.5 million diesel cars on Germany’s roads at the start of this year — with just 130,000 plug-in hybrids and 25,000 electric cars registered — Germany is going to have to dig deep to ensure it can make good on its promise of having a million electric cars on its roads by 2020 and 6 million electric cars on its roads by 2030.
Will Germany be able to meet the lofty goal of its deputy economy minister, or will it struggle to convince Germans to give up their high-speed gas-guzzling, autobahn-munching BMWs, Mercedes-Benz and Audis? And what advice would you give the German government to ensure that it can meet a goal of having no new internal combustion engine vehicles on its roads in just fourteen years’ time?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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