Germany blocks agreement on the end of combustion engines

Published on 14/03/2023

Germany has sprung a surprise by refusing to vote for the end of combustion engine cars in 2035. This was the date that had been set for the switch to all-electric vehicles. This was to be the end of petrol and diesel cars, with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Europe by 100%.

The Member States and the European Parliament had already approved the 2035 deadline, so all that remained was for the agreement to be put to the vote on 7 March. It was supposed to be a pure formality. But surprise! At the last minute, Germany announced that it would not be voting in favour of the text. Before the vote, Italy, Poland and Bulgaria had already expressed reservations, but their coalition was not enough to block the decision. The addition of Germany, with its 83 million inhabitants, to the above trio scuppered the vote, which has now been postponed indefinitely.

But let's go back for a moment: before giving the green light, Germany, a major car manufacturer, had already pointed out that alternative technologies could be considered, such as the use of synthetic fuels that could be used in internal combustion engines because their operation would be "potentially" almost neutral in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

So what happened? One of the partners in the German government coalition, made up of the liberal FDP party, the Social Democrats and the Greens, imposed its point of view on the other two partners: the Liberal party, a great defender of the interests of the countless medium-sized companies, many of which are automotive suppliers. However, it was losing ground in the polls. So it found a way to put pressure on the Scholz government and thus to stand out politically, knowing full well that for the German population, the car is sacred.

There is no doubt that the German protest has caused a stir in Brussels, especially as many people are now saying that banning internal combustion engines from new cars in Europe from 2035 would be a kind of suicide for European technology. However, the United States and China are likely to continue building combustion engine cars as if nothing had happened. This would be an unexpected gift to the Americans and the Chinese.

What about the future? Are we heading for a society split in two?

Many European carmakers are in a phase of change, but this is turning into a 'technological orgy' with vehicles that are ever bigger, more powerful and... more expensive. Where does this leave us? According to one industry expert, the motor trade has always been about "making a thirsty donkey drink".

 Electric vehicles are already much more expensive to manufacture than their internal combustion engine equivalents. But designers and engineers have gone back to their old reflexes. Powerful means heavy; flashy means superfluous; high-tech means expensive. It doesn't matter if the less well-off are left by the roadside. It doesn't matter if there are fewer and fewer customers who can afford a new car, because the sector's profitability has never been so high.1. Meanwhile, China is building electric cars that are heavily subsidised and therefore cheap. Will some Europeans have no choice but to buy Chinese cars? Such a prospect, of a European society cut in two, should be of concern to us Freemasons...2

  1. for this chapter, see the La Monde newspaper of 10 January 2023
  2. some believe that, in any case, by 2035 we will probably not have the necessary electricity production and distribution infrastructure in any EU country
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