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German carmakers say EU C02-emission rule to cause „disruption” - extended

A European Union plan to set legal carbon-dioxide emissions limits could cause „extensive economic disruption” to the region's car industry, German manufacturers including Volkswagen AG and DaimlerChrysler AG said.

A target of reducing automotive emissions to 120 grams (4 ounces) of CO2 per kilometer (1.6 miles) for 2012 is „technically infeasible,” the carmakers, also including Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and the German units of General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co., said in a letter sent to the European Commission January 26 and forwarded to Bloomberg yesterday. „These measures would amount to a massive industrial policy intervention at the expense of the entire European, and especially the German automobile industry,” according to the letter, which was signed by the chief executive officers of each company or unit.

Cars account for more than a 10th of the EU's emissions of carbon dioxide, the main gas blamed for global warming. The Brussels-based commission plans to propose a single cap of 120 grams a kilometer for 2012 for all cars produced or sold in the region, commission environment spokeswoman Barbara Helfferich said January 23. German Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee pledged that day to support the EU in setting legal limits. The EU has voluntary accords with European, Japanese and South Korean automakers that aim to reduce emissions in Western Europe by 25% to 140 grams of carbon dioxide a kilometer in 2008-2009 compared with 1995.

The commission says the automobile industry is falling short of that goal. The commission aims to outline a plan for legislation in a policy paper due next month and to present a draft proposal later this year. Tiefensee said January 23 that any EU system of binding caps should be based on classes of vehicles to give flexibility to luxury carmakers. The EU is committed to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 8% in 2008-2012, compared with 1990 figures, under the global Kyoto Protocol. As part of plans to fight climate change, the bloc also intends to extend to airlines a system of caps on factory and power-plant emissions of carbon dioxide.

Merkel told industrialists in Berlin today that the letdown was „regrettable,” but called on the EU to set multiple targets tailored to car types rather a single limit for all vehicles. The German government will „block any attempt to introduce a general reduction” for all cars and will „with all vigor and energy” seek to apply new „sectoral” limits for vehicles in the EU, she said. Merkel also rejected enrolling the car industry in the EU's emissions trading program. The auto industry will miss its voluntary target of limiting CO2 emissions from cars to 140 grams per kilometer by 2008, Merkel said. (Bloomberg)