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Germany Rebels Against EU Ban On Petrol Cars

March 24, 2023

By Paul Homewood


When green policies see the cold light of day!




BERLIN — Germans want to save the climate. They’re just reluctant to take the potentially painful steps this would require.

A growing backlash over climate-friendly policies is now hitting the German Greens, putting wobbles into the country’s three-party ruling coalition.

Not only has Germany been causing a ruckus at the EU level in recent weeks by mounting a last-minute blockade to a proposed ban on combustion engines, but the country is also facing a domestic political fight over phasing out gas and oil heating systems, as well as pushing forward the coal exit.

ll those disputes are linked to fundamental disagreements between the Greens and their two coalition partners, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Free Democratic Party (FDP), over how the EU’s climate-protection targets should be implemented and what consequences and costs this will have for industry and citizens.

The conflict is not only affecting the Greens’ popularity — is also seems to be threatening a wider crisis for the coalition. And that crisis seems to be escalating.

EU partners are looking with growing unease at the ruptures emerging in the German ruling coalition.

They’re particularly worried about Berlin’s blockade of an EU ban on sales of polluting cars and vehicles from 2035, which the German government previously agreed to, and was specifically promoted by the Greens. However, at the very last stage of the legislative approval process, the FDP of Porsche-driving Finance Minister Christian Lindner threw a spanner at the works, demanding that the European Commission create a loophole for cars operating with synthetic fuels, or e-fuels.

The FDP sees such e-fuels as a chance to save Germany’s industrial crown jewel: the piston-driven internal combustion engine. Without e-fuels, the EU law would force the car-making industry to shift entirely to electronic vehicles.

The FDP sees itself emboldened by a growing public backlash against the green goals for cars, with 67 percent of Germans recently saying they’re against banning the traditional combustion-engine car as of 2035. Germans are concerned about the hundreds of thousands of jobs that depend on its automotive industry.

For the Greens, however, which had long cheered the EU car legislation, the affair is hugely embarrassing — not to mention a threat to Germany’s reputation at EU level. However, per coalition politics, they are hamstrung, as Scholz has sided with the FDP on the issue.

Green policies are always popular, at least until people find out they have got to pay for them.

The row over the ban on proper cars by 2035 has been brewing for a few weeks now, and Germany has been joined by Italy and five other countries in blocking the EU’s proposed ban. Instead they want the EU to allow cars operating with synthetic e-fuels. But what is e-fuel?

In simple terms, it is hydrogen combined with carbon dioxide. As the latter is captured from the air, its release back into the air after combustion is carbon neutral. The hydrogen of course also has to be carbon neutral, made by electrolysis from renewable electricity.

Sounds good? Well this video explains why it is not really a solution at all:

In short, e-fuel is horribly energy inefficient, with e-fuel containing as little as 7% of the energy used to produce it. As a consequence it is also cripplingly expensive, maybe around $35/gallon.

As the video notes, if you have a Lamborghini, you don’t worry about how much it costs to fill up. But for ordinary passenger cars, it is a non-starter. And you would need so much wind power to produce the hydrogen that it could never work at scale.

So why is Germany so keen to promote it?

I suspect that the real reason is that by keeping combustion engine technology going, they will also be able to keep petrol/diesel going for at least a few more years too. After all, will Germany’s politicians be any keener to ban ICEs in 2035 than they are now? By then, they are likely to simply kick the can down the road again. That is if the whole absurdity of Net Zero has not already been consigned to the rubbish bin.

  1. Douglas Dragonfly permalink
    March 24, 2023 6:09 pm

    How are they going to manufacture cars ?
    I thought they had an energy problem.

  2. Harry Passfield permalink
    March 24, 2023 6:26 pm

    Do the panjandrums in Brussels really think the magnificent, historical car-makers in Europe, like BMW, Mercedes, Audi/Volkswagen, Ferrari, Maserati, Fiat, to name a few, are just going to roll over and let bureaucrats ruin their businesses? (PS: As an old Jaguar man I had to leave them off the list seeing as how they are Indian-owned: and they have their own agenda regarding CC.)

    • Gamecock permalink
      March 25, 2023 9:33 pm

      We have BMW in South Carolina as well.

      • Realist permalink
        March 26, 2023 9:31 am

        It looks like they already have let the politicians ruin their business. When did you last see an advert for an ICE car? They are obsessed with EVs.
        All the car makers need to join together and threaten to or actually close factories in Europe until the anti-car policies of the EU and even national governments (even in non-EU countries) stop and are reversed.

        >>car-makers in Europe, like BMW, Mercedes, Audi/Volkswagen, Ferrari, Maserati, Fiat, to name a few, are just going to roll over and let bureaucrats ruin their businesses?

      • Gamecock permalink
        March 26, 2023 1:10 pm

        It is oddly true, realist. EV penetration of the market is small, yet it garners almost all of the attention.

        My first GT350 sat on the showroom floor for 9 months (they had to give me a new battery). My GT350R sat on the showroom floor for 6 months (they had to give me a new battery).

        Halo cars to keep people excited about the brand, to keep traffic up in the dealership.

        Last time I went in my local dealership, they had an electric pickup truck, priced at nearly $25,000 higher than my R. Also same higher than comparably equipped ICE truck. I assume the dealer thinks it will excite people. With so much EV marketing, maybe it will.

        I think it dumb. But they are professionals.

  3. March 24, 2023 6:28 pm

    This is a bit old, but a more optimistic take on synfuel (alleging an eventual 70p/l):

    • catweazle666 permalink
      March 24, 2023 8:58 pm

      “Produced by extracting CO2 from the atmosphere in a process known as ‘direct air capture’…”

      How much air are you going to have to compress significantly to extract the 0.04% of CO2 from it?

      • March 24, 2023 9:10 pm

        Keep reading…

      • catweazle666 permalink
        March 24, 2023 9:49 pm

        Even capturing it from stacks and/or using e.coli bacteria the mass of gas pumped and processed to extract the required concentration of CO2 is still going to require far too much energy to be economical.
        Of course, IF you can get the taxpayer to subsidise it, anything is possible, no matter how far-fetched!

        And we haven’t even considered the – presumably electrolysed – hydrogen yet!

      • mikewaite permalink
        March 25, 2023 9:30 am

        Keep reading Jit said. So I did . The process by which a synthetic long chain alkane is produced involves , it seems , extraction of CO2 from air by use of KOH coated on plastic sheets . Extraction of CO2 from K2CO3? . Reaction of CO2 with H2 to give syngas and finally a Fischer -Tropsch type reaction to produce alkanes . the latter process is quoted to have an enthalpy of reaction of -165kJ/mole CO , Exothermic . But my caculation of the enthalpy change of H2 + CO2 ->H2O + CO is +505kJ/mole CO produced , so overall a net enthalpy change of + 340 kJ/mole ie energy consuming . Not sure how this is commercially preferable to the petrol and diesel fuel created by distillation of oil.

      • Realist permalink
        March 25, 2023 9:52 am

        Even the eco-terrorists admit that the “manmade part” is only three percent of that 0.04. That is a lot of zeros after the decimal point.
        >>0.04% of CO2 from the air

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        March 25, 2023 10:34 am

        Make lots of beer and capture that CO2?

      • Curious George permalink
        March 25, 2023 2:44 pm

        Damn the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Curse Lord Kelvin and Rudolf Clausius.
        Even better, let courts simply abolish the Second Law!

  4. Broadlands permalink
    March 24, 2023 6:55 pm

    “Germans want to save the climate. They’re just reluctant to take the potentially painful steps this would require.”

    Maybe some are beginning to understand that “urgent” reductions in CO2 emissions takes no CO2 from what’s already in the atmosphere? Furthermore, it makes the transition to the all-electric world much harder with less and less fuels available for the transportation being used… and at higher costs.

    • Martin Brumby permalink
      March 25, 2023 3:04 am

      The plebs have to walk.
      The rich will enjoy being rich much more when all the plebs are kept off the roads. And eating bugs.

      • dave permalink
        March 25, 2023 10:41 am

        “The plebs have to walk.”

        Not enough satisfaction in this for the elite. The plebs will be made to crawl along the road for a while, and then die amusingly in the ditch. At which point the elite may notice they are running low on slaves; they will pop down to the beach at Dungeness, pick a few likely incomers, and throw the rest back in the water. Or at least this is the fantasy.

  5. Realist permalink
    March 24, 2023 7:15 pm

    Ordinary people in EVERY country need to rebel against all bans and extortionate taxes and regulations on ICE vehicles

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      March 25, 2023 10:44 am

      It’s started at the bottom and that’s a good sign, the market decides.

      Used car prices are continuing to rise with yet another month of growth recorded by Auto Trader.

      While the rate of used car price growth has fallen back in the last year, there has been no crash in used car prices.

      Comparing February prices to January, Auto Trader saw petrol cars go up by 3.3 per cent and diesel by 1.4 per cent.

      However, the worrying drop in used electric car prices has continued with average used EV prices down -9.1 per cent.

      Commenting on the drop in EV prices, Walker said this was largely down to a ‘huge overbalance’ of supply in the market.

      My take “huge overbalance” means a surplus nobody wants, which continues to grow. 2nd hand diesels prices rising is an indication that EVs are not popular in the used car market.

      I have to say that if a hybrid were cheaper than an ICE equivalent I’d give it serious consideration despite the battery issues

      • James MacPherson permalink
        March 27, 2023 11:48 am

        With Ben Vorlich, one always starts at the bottom

      • M Fraser permalink
        March 30, 2023 1:09 pm

        Who would buy a used battery?

      • Realist permalink
        March 30, 2023 1:47 pm

        Another thought struck me. Why buy an EV that takes longer to recharge than the time of actual use you get from that recharge?

  6. Mr Robert Christopher permalink
    March 24, 2023 7:27 pm

    Just admit it: ‘they’ don’t want you to drive a car. They want you to stay within 15 minutes of your home.

    They don’t want you to own anything, and be happy, so no car! And you WILL be happy.

    • dave permalink
      March 25, 2023 11:16 am

      “…you WILL be happy…”

      Reminds me of two jokes from the Fifties.

      One on T.V.

      Speaker: Come the Revolution everyone will eat ice-cream!

      Small boy: But I don’t like ice-cream!

      Speaker: Come the Revolution you’ll eat ice-cream whether you like it or not!

      The other in Punch.

      A swarthy Mexican type festooned in cartridge belts and holding a machine gun:

      And I think I may safely say without fear of contradiction…

  7. March 24, 2023 8:26 pm

    Germans want to save the climate. They need to wake up.

    Lawmakers: ‘We’ll have to take some of your toys away’…
    Voters: ‘Er, just a minute…’

    • dave permalink
      March 25, 2023 11:18 am

      What does an unsaved climate look like? Is it a bit like a fallen woman?

  8. Douglas Dragonfly permalink
    March 24, 2023 8:29 pm

    Germany is the third largest arms supplier to Ukraine after America and the UK.
    How much fossil fuel does a Leopard tank burn ?
    Let’s get real here, man made climate change is no threat.
    Where as nuclear armageddon most certainly is.
    The UK is already selling the Ukrainians depleted uranium.
    As I said – let’s get real.
    What is the real threat to global well being this month ?

    • Martin Brumby permalink
      March 25, 2023 3:09 am

      I think we are giving it away, Douglas.
      Or perhaps “swapping it,” for some big brown envelopes.

      The real threat to global well being?
      GangGreen. Zero doubt.

      • Douglas Dragonfly permalink
        March 25, 2023 5:52 pm

        Yes, of course. Giving away nuclear waste sounds very possible.
        Guess I’m still hurting from European Union legislation that brought in type approval some years ago.
        Did it not start in Germany ? Anyway it attempted to spoil our motor bike building fun.
        Still angry.

    • Dave Andrews permalink
      March 25, 2023 4:23 pm

      You can’t equate depleted uranium tank rounds with nuclear weapons – though many in CND may do. They have been used in a number of conflicts, notably Yugoslavia and Iraq. Even the UN said they found no evidence of radiation effects in the former and the US did exhaustive investigations into the health of its Iraq war veterans and found likewise.

      • Douglas Dragonfly permalink
        March 25, 2023 6:09 pm

        Thanks for getting me to think this over more deeply.
        I accept DU is not the same as nuclear bombs.
        That said I do not trust the World Health Organisation nor the once reputable Lancet anymore.
        There is so much compensation money at stake I still believe DU once in the air then in the soil will have a detrimental effect on human beings. At least enough for me to call for an end to its use.
        Mind you the entire situation is most detrimental to the human condition.
        The hypocrisy here wrankles. That’s all I really should have written.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        March 25, 2023 7:24 pm

        In fact DU is used for radioactive shielding and for ballast in aviation and is no more environmentally hazardous than any of the other unpleasant contaminants found on modern battlefields.

        It is used in discarding sabot armour piercing rounds because on impact the “mushroom” is stripped off, creating a self-sharpening effect.

      • Douglas Dragonfly permalink
        March 25, 2023 10:54 pm

        Thank you CW.

  9. Gamecock permalink
    March 24, 2023 8:40 pm

    ‘All True Germans want to save the climate.’

    Fixed it.

    ‘A growing backlash over climate-friendly policies’

    Begging the question fallacy. It is not in evidence that the policies are ‘climate-friendly.’ Putting policies in ‘climate-friendly’ wrapping paper doesn’t make them such . . . even if we understood what ‘climate-friendly’ means.

    • March 24, 2023 11:02 pm

      The climate does quite well on its own, thank you, without bumbling “friends.”

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        March 25, 2023 10:48 am

        As does all of nature. If the natural world could talk it would agree with Ronald Reagan The top 9 most terrifying words in the English Language are: I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.

  10. Graeme No.3 permalink
    March 24, 2023 8:48 pm

    Germany got 33.3% of its electricity from coal last year (up 8.4% on the previous year). Even with the use of EU diktats that burning wood and rubbish doesn’t emit CO2, their emissions haven’t reduced much in 14 years.

  11. John Brown permalink
    March 24, 2023 8:53 pm

    At present the best e-fuel to use is not some multicarbon/hydrogen chemical but simply methane/natural gas/CH4. Methane has an energy density between petrol/diesel and batteries. Green methane is already being produced via anaerobic digestion and can be made from green hydrogen using the 80% efficient Sabatier process. CNG vehicles already exist on our roads and existing ices can be relatively easily converted to methane/CNG. So no need to scrap all our existing ice cars. Methane is far safer than hydrogen and can be far more easily stored and transported on existing pipelines around the country.

    • March 24, 2023 11:04 pm

      If the incompetent governments would get out of the way entrepreneurs will economically provide for mankind’s transportation needs.

    • Gamecock permalink
      March 25, 2023 1:04 am

      It’s not scalable, Mr Brown.

      • John Brown permalink
        March 25, 2023 2:25 pm

        Gamecock : You may right and at the moment there are only 13 public CNG filling stations in the UK. But on Googling I see that Hermes (UK) have just ordered a further 60 CNG trucks to bring their total to 160 and the article claims John Lewis have more than 160 and aims for 600 by 2028. Also, according to Google there are 14.8m vehicles worldwide. So I think it is a better proposition than bevs and IF our energy policymakers were really concerned about CO2 emissions then they should zero the fuel duty on green CNG and let the manufacturers/public/the market make the decision whether to use bevs or ices using green methane. I know which I would prefer.

      • Realist permalink
        March 26, 2023 7:40 am

        Fuel duty on ALL fuels, particularly diesel, petrol and CNG / LPG should be scrapped in its entirety. The revenue doesn’t get used for even maintaining the roads let alone building new ones

      • Gamecock permalink
        March 25, 2023 2:55 pm

        “then they should zero the fuel duty on green CNG and let the manufacturers/public/the market make the decision”

        How about letting the market decide without green (sic) CNG getting an advantage? That is government deciding, not the market.

      • Realist permalink
        March 26, 2023 7:43 am

        The market should ALWAYS decide. The problem is European politicians (not only the UK) that keep ignoring what the market actually needs and wants.
        >>How about letting the market decide without green getting an advantage

      • John Brown permalink
        March 25, 2023 5:37 pm

        Gamecock, I’m suggesting that the market decides between green CNG and electricity for bevs after 2030/2035. To make an even playing field there should be no fuel duty (now described as a carbon tax) on green CNG just as there is no fuel duty on the electricity for bevs (or at least not yet but I expect it will come). Sorry, but I don’t understand why you have written “sic” for green CNG. The normal/the majority of CNG is not “green” but green CNG does exist, mainly I expect from anaerobic digestion. I am suggesting that green CNG, where CO2 has been extracted from the air using the Sabatier process and is thus a green fuel, should carry no fuel duty as an incentive and to make a level playing field against bevs. For the consumer the extra cost of production may be largely offset by the removal of the fuel duty, but unfortunately the removal of fuel duty would not be of interest to the government.

      • Gamecock permalink
        March 25, 2023 9:35 pm

        Sorry to reject your fantasy. You can have whatever you want.

    • Mikehig permalink
      March 26, 2023 10:41 pm

      Isn’t green methane produced by turning food into fuel?

  12. John Wilson permalink
    March 25, 2023 12:45 am

    The eco warriors are so screwed .Long live fossil fuels.

  13. Phoenix44 permalink
    March 25, 2023 7:47 am

    Note how Germans don’t want ICE cars, they are simply concerned about “jobs”. Yet more lies. Many Germans don’t want an EV. They want an ICE car.

    • Realist permalink
      March 25, 2023 9:49 am

      Most people in all countries don’t want EVs. Apart from being too expensive, they are LESS practical than ICE.
      >>Many Germans don’t want an EV.

  14. Peter Schofield permalink
    March 25, 2023 9:17 am

    A last minute show of common sense
    China will tale over the evs, and if ice
    cars are banned in the EU they will take over there too

  15. George Lawson permalink
    March 25, 2023 9:43 am

    British car manufacturers should collectively tackle the Btitish government on the ridiculous ban on the production of petrol/diesel vehicles after 2030, which will be so massively damaging to the British economy. If they all spoke in one voice about the utter stupidity of the Gove ruling, we will all benefit from the ruling being overturned.

    • Realist permalink
      March 25, 2023 9:56 am

      Somebody is paying the car makers a LOT of money (and/or threatening their families) so that they are silent about the ICE ban. I guess they don’t care about the unemployment or maybe they will make enough money from selling spare parts for ICE.

      • Gamecock permalink
        March 25, 2023 9:47 pm

        I still have suspicion that the German automakers are using the ICE ban as a tool to escape German labor unions and crappy German energy supply.

        Close your German shops while claiming, “It’s for the planet.”

    • Realist permalink
      March 25, 2023 10:01 am

      Not only the UK. All car makers worldwide (particularly Europe) should be protesting to the respective governments / politicians about the ICE ban in particular and the already existing extortionate taxes and regulations in general.

    • Dave Andrews permalink
      March 25, 2023 4:53 pm

      According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders almost 1m people are employed in vehicle production and the wider industry in the UK and it accounts for 10% of total exports and generates £77 bn trade pa. 8 out of 10 cars produced in the UK are exported.

      One would imagine that they are pointing this out to the government on a daily basis

      • John Brown permalink
        March 25, 2023 5:51 pm

        I’m sure they are, unless they’re thinking they can make more money from the transition from ices to bevs, with everyone scrapping their car within a shorter than normal amount of time. Also the fact that bevs do not last as long as ices. The Government certainly do. If you read either “Net Zero Strategy” or “Mission Zero” you will find listed millions of new “green” (well paid) jobs. But they never mention all the jobs lost….Plus the fact of course that CAGW/Net Zero (now deemed to be necessary by 2040) has become a religion (hence no discussion on the subject because it is blasphemous) and so no-one in Government or Parliament is listening and any unilateral costs are acceptable to “save the planet”.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        March 25, 2023 7:35 pm

        “you will find listed millions of new “green” (well paid) jobs”

        None of which currently exist.

  16. Ray Sanders permalink
    March 25, 2023 9:59 am

    There is a certain irony – allow the Greens into power and the electorate then immediately get turned off by Green ideology when they realise how crap it is.
    Stops Net Zero dead in its tracks.

  17. ancientpopeye permalink
    March 25, 2023 10:04 am

    Good, at last it seems commonsense has prevailed, hopefully the whole scam will come crashing down. Past time that our Government stopped the nonsense of net zero and destroying any industry in Britain just to reduce our miniscule 1% while the rest of the World presses ahead producing the other 99%?

    • George Lawson permalink
      March 25, 2023 12:40 pm

      One begins to believe that a certain section of the public, in and out of government, who have accepted the false global warming scare hook line and sinker, have somehow contracted a mental disease that stops them applying logic even when the facts prove how way off the mark their thinking really is.

    • Gamecock permalink
      March 25, 2023 9:43 pm

      Don’t flatter yourself, Mr Popeye.

      Man’s production of CO2 emissions is <4%, Nature being the Big Daddy. UK, with ~1% of Man's production, is therefore ~0.04%. A rounding error.

      Blow up the country . . . it will make no f#&^ing difference.

      UK's "climate actions" are a clown show.

      • Realist permalink
        March 26, 2023 9:34 am

        A lot less. It is actually three percent of zero point zero four percent.
        >>Man’s production of CO2 emissions is <4%,

      • March 26, 2023 1:17 pm

        [citation needed]

      • In The Real World permalink
        March 26, 2023 1:33 pm

        Vehicles in the UK produce about 20% of the UKs CO2 . Which is about 1% of all of the countries in the world production . Which is about 3 or 4 % of all of the CO2 . Which is about 0.04% of the atmosphere .

        So that is 0.000001% of the atmosphere , or 1 in 50millions parts

  18. It doesn't add up... permalink
    March 26, 2023 11:01 pm

    Berlin has just failed to open in favour of going Net Zero by 2030. Berlin Klimaneutral 2030) Although the proposal got 50.9% of votes cast, it fell well short of the requirement to be approved by at least 25% of the electorate, with turnout limited to 35.8%.

  19. It doesn't add up... permalink
    March 26, 2023 11:03 pm

    I hate autocorrect, especially when the textbox scrolls to hide it.

    Open = vote.

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