Sunday, September 29, 2013

Can Corporations Act as Good Environmental Citizens?

 (So it is not only the US car manufacturers that have dragged their feet in meeting new emission standards.  Could it be that profits are more important than the environment? :-))

 

Exclusive: French carmakers back German bid to delay CO2 curbs - sources

Photo
Fri, Sep 27 2013
By Barbara Lewis and Laurence Frost
BRUSSELS/PARIS (Reuters) - Germany has enlisted French carmakers' support for a last-ditch bid to delay new EU vehicle emissions limits by four years as it battles to win more time for its luxury auto industry, government officials and diplomats said.
Berlin wants to re-open and water down draft carbon dioxide goals agreed in June by introducing the phase-in period, under a proposal circulated by diplomats on Friday and seen by Reuters.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's government is engaged in an uphill struggle to weaken the measures cutting new car emissions to 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer by 2020 - a major challenge for upmarket German automakers Daimler and BMW.
Germany has so far been unable to secure support from a blocking minority of EU governments to dilute the new rules, ahead of a vote expected next week.
But Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroen have broken ranks with Paris to side with their German industrial partners Daimler, BMW and Opel, officials said.
"We became aware of this common industry position last week," a French government official said. Germany is expected to "use it to press the new demands", the official added.
Merkel intervened in June to prevent an earlier scheduled EU vote after Berlin unsuccessfully pressured other governments to oppose the draft, warning of possible consequences for cooperation in other areas.
The latest German move would result in effective emissions of 104 g/km in 2020, 10 percent above the target, according to Brussels-based campaign group Transport & Environment.
"Germany's real motivations for preventing a vote are now clear - to give its luxury carmakers four more years to keep selling gas-guzzlers," policy coordinator Greg Archer said.
Renault and Peugeot declined to comment on whether they now supported Germany's bid to loosen the rules.
Both French carmakers have previously said they stand to gain competitive advantage from tighter CO2 limits, thanks to the below average size and fuel consumption of the cars they sell.
"Peugeot has already taken the 2020 targets into account and is well on track to meet them - while also aware that they are tough," a spokeswoman said.
But the French carmakers have come under pressure from their respective German industry partners to adopt a common stance.
Renault and Japanese affiliate Nissan share a growing number of engines and vehicle architectures with Daimler's Mercedes-Benz and Smart models.
Peugeot hopes to renew a major engine-sharing deal with BMW while developing future vehicles with 7-percent shareholder General Motors and its Opel division.
Renault executives often discuss regulatory issues with Daimler counterparts, a source close to the French carmaker said. "Renault and Daimler talk a lot about this kind of stuff."
COST CONCERN
Under the latest German counter-proposal, the 95 gram limit would apply only to 80 percent of new cars in 2020, rising by 5 percentage points each year to full implementation in 2024.
The rules should be "designed (so) that manufacturers are enabled to reach the 2020 target in the most cost-effective way", the document says. "Therefore they need more flexibility in the transition phase."
Most carmakers are on course to achieve CO2 emissions comfortably below the interim EU target of 130 g/km for 2015.
Germany has so far won backing from Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic - not enough to block the vote. A French reversal could change that.
But Socialist President Francois Hollande is under pressure from Green deputies and ministers to stand firm.
France will study the German initiative "just as we would any other proposal", the government official said.
"But as things stand we remain in favor of the agreed deal," the official added. The French carmakers' 11th-hour position is "not something we would take into account".
Paris has yet to respond, a German government official said. "It's not clear if they will support the French carmakers' position."
Germany's renewed determination to torpedo the CO2 legislation is irking many European partners, officials from several EU states and institutions said.
"It's as if after a football match with a given result, the losing team decides to change the rules and everyone has to restart the match until they win," one diplomat said.
Berlin's approach "bodes badly for the future" of EU decision-making, said Chris Davies, a member of the European Parliament for Britain's Liberal Democrats.
"Special pleading by Germany on behalf of the most lucrative carmakers has to be resisted, or there's a risk of undermining EU industrial policy across the board."

14 comments:

Leah DeEgidio said...

The fact that the EU is making advancements towards the regulation of CO2 emissions is very important to moving towards a more sustainable world. Cutting new car emissions to 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer by 2020 will be difficult for automobile manufactures to apply to their production and profits. Germany feeling pressure to go against this is not surprising. In many cases, things that are harmful to the environment, are easy and profitable to produce. Germany wants to give its luxury car manufactures more time to make money off of these damaging vehicles. The EU as a whole knows this law needs to pass, however if Germany gets France and other countries to go against it, the EU will be in trouble.

Annamaria Watson said...

In my opinion, this is a classic example of private interests taking precedence over public interests. Germany, though probably the most well-off country in Europe at the moment, will certainly find it difficult to implement the restrictions on time. There really can be no doubting that it is facing major corporate pressure to pass the "phase-out" policy. However, once an international deal has been made it must be kept in order for the system to work. Germany should have been able to foresee these difficulties in June, when they were under discussion. As for France, the country seems to be in a battle of money vs values. I do not know what Hollande will decide, in the end, to do. France is facing a debt crisis right now that will cause it to deeply consider supporting Germany, but I am unsur whether this crisis will be so severe for Hollande to go against the ministers and original deals made in June.

Bradley Malave said...

It doesn't surprise me at all that a car company would want to delay car regulations so that they can create cars that limits vehicle emissions but it does surprise me that it is a German company because Germany is known for being environmentally friendly and renewable energy. This strong push for delaying the new emission limit for 4 years really does show that this company holds its profits higher than the safety of the environment which does have an impact on future generations. I am glad that Germany isn't getting all of the votes to reduce the car emission to 95 grams of co2 per kilometer. It is important for car companies to realize that they are the ones who are behind all of the co2 emitted from cars. If car companies put more money towards research that will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide, then, that would be a great stepping stone. They will be environmental role models for other industries. Unfortunately, they are not putting enough effort towards that. Instead, they are trying to delay regulations that will protect the environment. It is really bothering that the only reason why Germany is preventing a vote is so that it can continue to sell luxury cars that consume an enormous amount of gas. Why can't this car company make its luxury cars 95g/km or even lower? Why do they want to have cars that consume more gas if they will continue to profit from selling their luxury cars? Because of the new counter-proposal, the 95 gram limit only applies to 80% of new cars in 2020. This shows that the German company was being so stubborn to abide by the new regulation that regulators folded and instead of being strict, they compromised. In their words, "The rules should be "designed (so) that manufacturers are enabled to reach the 2020 target in the most cost-effective way." By this being said, it shows that companies’ profits are worth more than the environment's well-being. Will it be too late when companies realize how much of the environment they are allowing to be destroyed?

Omer Aitzaz said...

This article is a perfect example of how transnational corporations around the world favor their economic growth over anything and everything else. Germany, pressured by its luxury car manufacturing conglomerates, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, is on a mission to delay the agreed upon EU draft of reducing vehicular carbon dioxide emissions to 95 grams per kilometer by 2020. French car makers, such as Peugeot and Renault, had previously sided with the EU proposal of cutting down carbon emissions; since Peugeot and Renault would gain competitive advantage from the deal, owing to their smaller sized cars,and would maximize their profits, they initially sided with EU. Now, German manufacturers that have entered into a deal with French car makers are pressuring these French companies to side with Germans and torpedo the deal struck in June.
All this confirms is how economic growth is the main prerogative of transnational companies, with no regards for the destruction of the environment that their big engine cars are creating. The 'phase in' period that Germans are rooting for would ultimately give these car manufacturers an additional 4 more years to sell as much of their gas guzzling cars as they can before the co2 emission deal is to be applied in their manufacturing.
This is a great example of corporate greed and disregards for everything else in the process. It also shows the control and grip that such corporations can have on governmental institutions.

Remy Gallo said...

Everyone is talking about how greed is bad and all these companies want is money, and it is true, but it should be the governments job to change that. If German car companies want to delay a regulation on emissions, then tax their environmentally un-friendly cars so they can't make a profit, and give companies that are helping preserve the environment tax breaks. Once the greed goes toward making environmentally friendly vehicles, Germany and every other country will be on board. This idea is proved correct in the article. The French originally decided to side with the EU proposal because it would give them an advantage, being that they already make smaller and more efficient cars. It is true that most large companies will not do something unless it is for their benefit, so being environmentally friendly has to become the profitable thing to do.

Michael Bronn said...

These automobile companies have made tons and tons of money over the years, and their main concerns have always been profit. Greed is a terrible thing, and these companies need to just cut their emissions without trying to delay it due to money. It will be difficult, but many of the vehicles that they put out on the marker are not easy to make, therefore with some time and effort they will be able to cut their emissions to 95 grams of C02 per kilometer. People need to be more concerned with the environment rather than the cost effectiveness. If they destroy the environment, there will be no more profits.

Anthony Jones said...

"Germany's real motivations for preventing a vote are now clear - to give its luxury carmakers four more years to keep selling gas-guzzlers,"...Unfortunately, in our society, one that is driven solely for the purpose of profit, this is a common sentiment. Germany's bid is not one that is surprising nor unexpected. It is too commonly the case that in a battle where the economy is pitted against the environment, the economy usually assumes victory while the environment takes a back seat. The Auto industry is a global industry greatly benefiting from production and any regulation, in the eyes of the business, is a threat which must be eradicated or sidelined. Now that Germany is trying so hard to get France and other EU countries to follow suit, the fight is on to ensure regulatory policy remains enforced.

Mary Hekker said...

The fact that car companies are doing whatever they can to delay spending more money doesn't surprise me. It does annoy me a bit however because car companies reducing their CO2 emissions to 95 grams per kilometer in six years seems like a small drop in the bucket of the environmental problems. While it's progress, people and companies especially are not in the mind frame that environmental sustainability is a very important goal. In order to make any long term progress there must be a paradigm shift, not just reductions in CO2 emissions in a few car manufacturers. Another issue I have is with the technology needed to achieve these reductions. Will the inventions of new technology and reduced CO2 emissions be better for the environment? The solution may be to simplify technology.

Christie Homberg said...

The blog post discusses a trend that seems to be all to common today; private over public interest. There seems to be a struggle in the attempts to get companies and corporations on board for less environmentally harmful practices, not specific to this new policy attempting to be passed for the car industry. In previous postings, we have read about nuclear plants and new regulations that will be in place for future plant. However, it's surprising to me that instead of trying to cut down on the amount of power plants being established, or vehicles being produced, people are more concerned with finding alternatives as a way of justifying the production. Although cutting carbon emissions would be a step in the right direction, we should put more of a focus on decreasing the production and demand for more vehicles.

Taylor Vogt said...

It's interesting that Germany would pursue this route given their history of being an environmentally progressive country; the world largest installter of solar photovoltaic capacity. It makes sense though, when you think that BMW and Daimler aren't exactly known for being at the fore front of the carbon reduction trend ala hybrids and electric vehicles. I don't know of a BMW hybrid off of the top of my head. In that same vein it's interesting to think that all of these companies are high end manufacturers, appealing to a much different crowd than a GM, Honda or Toyota. They have vested interests elsewhere, leading my mind to wander onto the possibility that their lobbying efforts are actually the result of others pressures on them. This supposition is substantiated by the veiled threat germany apparently made by saying they would be uncooperative in other areas. This becomes muddied though with the realization that all these companies are inextricably linked by investment or parts. It becomes more crystallizing the more you read that there may just be an industry wide, trans-national effort to pit one country against another by the auto industry.

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