German carmakers under fire

A report from InfluenceMap finds that BMW has emerged as the German automotive sector’s leading opponent of climate policy. While the German automotive industry has increasingly stated top-line support for the Paris Agreement and long-term climate targets key groups have advocated to weaken near-term climate regulations to reach such goals.

Negative climate policy engagement appears to be led by BMW, which has actively opposed key European climate policies in 2019-21. This is followed by Daimler which has failed to disclose key climate policy positions and engagement. Volkswagen has mixed but increasingly positive climate policy engagement.

The report demonstrates how the German auto sector more broadly has lobbied against two key policies of higher CO2 emissions standards for light-duty vehicles and ICE phase-out dates. The research further highlights greenwashing from PR campaigns German automakers have used to deflect growing public and government concerns over the sector’s climate footprint, with road transport estimated to account for 19 per cent of Germany's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2020.

The research highlights the threat to German and EU climate targets if regulations are weakened by negative automotive industry climate policy engagement. This is significant due to the ongoing German coalition government’s negotiations, which will likely include a road transport decarbonisation plan, and current EU parliamentary negotiations on CO2 standards for light-duty vehicles. The research also highlights Volkswagen's mixed but increasingly positive direct climate policy engagement - while remaining a key member of industry associations, including the VDA, with active negative climate policy engagement.

The research also highlights how these German automakers have increasingly stated top-line support for a low-carbon modal shift, while using their industry associations to oppose key EU and German modal shift policies.

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