The German Energy Agency (dena) has stated that the current trend toward heavy and fuel-hungry sports utility vehicles (SUVs) poses a threat to Germany’s climate ambitions and that authorities should work to reverse the trend. According to dena, “the share of large, fuel-intensive passenger cars will undoubtedly continue to climb even if additional legislative instruments are not developed to prevent [the trend of SUVs].”
This will result in an increase in emissions for the same amount of miles as well as a lack of space on the roadways and especially in the inner cities. The EPA has issued a warning that the climate goals for the transportation sector will not be attainable if the current trends in new automobile registrations are allowed to continue. “The need for action in the areas of climate and transportation policy is both exceedingly urgent and huge.” Dena observed that foreign manufacturers are making headway in the sales of small cars and battery-electric vehicles in Germany, but domestic manufacturers are shifting their attention increasingly to SUVs, which have better profit margins.
According to the German transport authority kba, during the first eleven months of the year, 47 percent of new automobiles registered in Germany had an alternative propulsion system. This is a 12 percent increase over the previous year. A little more than 28 percent were either fully electric cars or plug-in hybrids with electric propulsion. An growth of more than 22 percent led to a nearly 16 percent share being held by pure electric vehicles. According to Dena, in addition to hastening the transition to the use of alternative propulsion systems, it also appears to be urgently important to take measures to improve energy efficiency in transportation, find ways to avoid traffic, and switch to using public transportation. By the spring of 2019, the administration intends to reach a consensus on a comprehensive set of policies to cut emissions from transportation.
Since the 1970s, Germany’s transportation sector has been plagued by difficulties in terms of reducing emissions. According to the opinions of many industry professionals, the first year that the government was in office was another lost year in the transition to greener modes of transportation. The inaction of the transport ministry, which is led by Free Democrat (FDP) Volker Wissing, is widely held responsible for this. The shift will need to pick up speed quickly in order to meet the sector’s climate targets, which are as follows: emissions will need to decrease from 148 million tonnes of CO2 in 2021 to 85 million tonnes by 2030.