Sarkozy marries Merkel, but screws the climate instead
Paris, 10th of April, 2008 - A "wedding cortege" of the most-polluting German cars travelled along the Champs Elysée in Paris today, stopping in various showrooms to distribute invitations to the marriage of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The cortege went also to the Elysée, the French presidential palace, and to the French Environment Ministry, to deliver an official letter asking President Sarkozy and his Environment Minister Borloo to not give away the fight against climate change. Organised by Greenpeace, the cortege parodies the forthcoming bilateral Franco-German so-called Blaesheim meeting on 9 June.
To fight climate change, the European Union must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, especially in the transport sector. European car manufacturers are fighting ferociously against a binding regulation, and in this battle they are championed by Merkel.
With this parody wedding, Greenpeace is highlighting the danger that the Franco-German partnership will result in very weak European regulations, benefiting a German car industry that is both influential and dirty.
"If the French President and the government forsake any climate solutions in response to a German Chancellor obsessed by the financial interests of her country's car industry, the whole credibility of the French presidency of the EU would be questionable," said Anne Valette, Greenpeace France climate campaigner.
"Being so lax with the most-polluting sector totally contradicts Sarkozy's repeated stance - that not doing the maximum to address climate change is irresponsible and also a crime."
The transport sector is the only sector in the EU to have increased its emissions, by around 26% since 1990. Private vehicles alone are responsible for 12% of the total emissions of the EU. Despite a voluntary commitment to reduce CO2 emissions from new cars to 140 g/km by 2008, European car manufacturers only reached an average of 160 g/km in 2006.
To meet the challenge of climate change, the EU must adopt a new regulation by the end of this year that will limit CO2 emissions from new vehicles to 120 g/km by 2012 and to 80 g/km by 2020. The regulation must also include a burden-sharing among manufacturers based on the size of the vehicles and not on weight, and must include a system of penalties sufficiently strong to force manufacturers to respect the regulation - 150 euros for each additional gram of CO2 above the limit for each vehicle sold.
Up until the last few months, France had favoured severe penalties, a size based criteria instead of weight and a 2020 target. But this is no longer its position. Only three months away from taking up the rotating EU presidency, what could have persuaded France to give up its initial ambitions?
"Sarkozy and Merkel could sell out their countries' climate objectives when they get together for the so-called Blaesheim meeting on 9 June" Valette added. "Only months away from taking up the rotating EU Presidency, France is branding itself as a strong leader in the fight against climate change. But, with this dirty deal, only the car manufacturers will be partying, while EU citizens and the planet will be the ones paying the price for the industry's celebration."