Germany drops plan for auto biofuel
Berlin (AFP) April 4, 2008
Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Friday that Germany would scrap plans to develop auto biofuels because they were not appropriate for millions of vehicles.
"We will not do it," Gabriel told the television channel ARD.
The VDIK association of foreign automakers said that around 3.3 million vehicles were unable to use the mix of ethanol and traditional petrol that Berlin sought to impose.
Gabriel had warned the project would be abandoned if more than one million vehicles could not use the fuel.
"Environmental policy will not be held responsible if millions of car owners have to pay more" for fuel, he said, adding: "All of us underestimated the problems."
The news dealt a blow to 'green fuels' which have been seen as a way to reduce global warming but which have also been criticised by some ecologists and the German automobile club.
The E10 project was supposed to ensure that 10 percent of petrol used by cars and light trucks in Germany was comprised of ethanol so as to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
But the new fuel was found to be more corrosive than traditional petrol and threatened to wear out certain engine parts too quickly, in particular in cars that were more than 15 years old.
Many drivers would have had to switch to more expensive Super-Plus petrol.
The decision is a setback however for the government which sought to go further than the European Union (EU) in setting standards for cutting carbon dioxide emissions.
Biofuels were billed as a key contributor to the effort.
"There is no need for Germany to go it alone," VDIK president Volker Lange said in a statement.
"All environmental protection strategy must be harmonised and applied on the European level."
E10 has also come under fire from environmental groups such as Greenpeace, which criticises the conditions under which colza and soja used in the fuel is grown.
The powerful German automobile club ADAC noted that E10 fuel would represent a surcharge for consumers.
Berlin has nonetheless not abandoned plans to reduce CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2020 compared with their 1990 level.
Dropping the E10 project means however that other sectors, in particular electricity production, will have to increase the share of its production from renewable sources to 30 percent from 27.5 percent, Gabriel said.
To meet EU auto emission targets of an average 120 grams per kilometre, the car industry "will also have to come up with other technical measures," he added.
"That will certainly please auto parts makers," the minister added.
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Frankfurt (AFP) April 3, 2008
Germany's automakers association played down concerns Thursday that large numbers of cars would be incompatible with a new biofuel mix that the government wants to introduce to cut emissions.
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