A Match Made in Car Industry Heaven?

Feature story - 10 April, 2008
We bring news of one of the biggest weddings of the year, between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

'Sarkozy' and 'Merkel' as bride and groom on the Champs Elysée in Paris. 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.

A lavish affair, the bride will be escorted down the aisle by the German car industry, which has provided a very dirty dowry for the happy couple. But, as France and Germany look set to get into bed together, we're sad to say we won't be hearing the pitter-patter of tiny feet any time soon.

Instead, we'll hear the continued roaring and revving of climate-crashing, gas-guzzling car engines. The wedding - which will cost EU citizens dearly and be held at the expense of planet Earth - will take place on 9 June during the Franco-German Blaesheim Summit.

The happy couple will share the top table with the transport sector, they will be celebrating and dancing long into the night. An exquisite wedding cake has been baked, although nobody outside of France or Germany can expect to be offered a slice. And remember … that won't be a bouquet you'll see Merkel tossing blissfully over her shoulder - it'll be the climate objectives of France and Germany.

Wedding Presence

We thought it'd only be polite to lay on a special treat for the pair - so today, a wedding cortege composed of the most-polluting German cars travelled along the Champs Elysée to distribute the wedding invitations.

We even went to the presidential palace and the French Environment Ministry, delivering an official letter asking President Sarkozy and his Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo not to give up the fight against climate change. What we're really highlighting today is how dangerous this union could actually turn out to be.

Lifting the Veil…

France is only months away from taking up the 6-months rotating EU Presidency. During France's presidency, the EU must adopt a new regulation to limit average CO2 emissions from new vehicles.

The EU must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in order to fight climate change, and it is the transport sector which is key to achieving this - while other sectors have seen decreasing emissions, since 1990 the transport sector's have increased by around 26 percent.    

European car manufacturers, of course, have been ferociously opposing binding regulation. In 1998 they made a voluntary commitment to reduce CO2 emissions from new cars to 140 g/km by the beginning of this year, but so far they've only managed an average of 160 g/km.

Fortunately for them, they have a champion for their cause - the bride herself, obsessed by the financial interests of Germany's car industry.

Leading us up the aisle

France has, until now, strongly favoured penalties, a size-based criteria for burden-sharing and the targets set for 2012. Sarkozy has constantly repeated the message that everyone must do the maximum possible to address climate change. Now it appears that Sarkozy is going to make a u-turn as the wedding car sweeps the newlyweds off on a honeymoon.  

If the pre-nuptial agreement also involves a little backsliding on its own stance on climate change, it seems France is prepared to sign the dotted line. As both France and Germany are major car-making countries, it's extremely likely that any deals struck between them will also become the position of all EU Member States.  

This particular wedding may set a trend that others will follow…and the bride hasn't even had the decency to blush.

Future Happiness

We won't be sending the happy couple the usual pop-up toaster or coffee-making machine as a wedding present. Here's what's on our list of the things that would secure an ideal future for everyone in the EU:

Greenpeace wants lawmakers to strengthen the proposed legislation by:

  • including a 120g CO2/km standard as a fleet average for 2012; and a longer-term target of 80g CO2/km by 2020;
  • basing emission standards on a car's size (its 'footprint') and not its weight;
  • setting effective penalties of at least 150 EUR per gram CO2 in excess of the corporate fleet standard for every car sold;
  • setting a CO2 emission standard applicable to each car, which is enforced through the EU's type approval legislation.

You can send your own message of congratulations to the love-struck couple; join the 30,000 others who have signed our e-petition against this dirty deal!

Take action

Please write to the Germany's Chancellor, Angela Merkel, today asking her to support strong emissions standards.