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Green from the band – as the car factories create a diet with CO2

Combined power plant and power plant at VW headquarters in Wolfsburg: Gas instead of coal would save millions of tons of CO2

Hauke-Christian Dittrich / DPA

Combined power plant and power plant at VW headquarters in Wolfsburg: Gas instead of coal would save millions of tons of CO2

He could go through the strategy of electric cars in the coming years. Or specify clear goals for expanding mobility services. Such topics would fit perfectly in taking over the duties of the President of the Board of Daimler. But Ola Källenius preferred to make a big, far-reaching whole. Ten days before the Daimler Annual Meeting on May 22, the successor of Dieter Zetsche said that in the future he would want to focus much more on climate protection.

Until 2022, production of Mercedes's personal cars in Europe will be completely CO2 neutral and Källenius announced a new route just before taking over duties. By 2039, the new Daimler Executive Director announced, the Švabica fleet should be completely neutral with CO2 – from production to operation. Suppliers will in the future have to produce their parts with as little CO2 as possible. To ensure that these goals are pursued steadily by the administration, part of the fees to the Executive Board will in the future be linked to achieving sustainability goals.

Daimler's boss as a climate protector? This change should meet with many green-minded Germans to a healthy dose of skepticism. So far, automotive companies are not necessarily the key to ecological problems. Although the industry has been struggling for years, their factories, at least in Europe, are working reasonably to conserve resources and water. However, from a diesel fuel scandal, the automobile industry had to accept charges for green rinsing – not without justification.

However, the EU and the Paris Accord are in balance with the industry, and by 2030, CO2 emissions from new cars in the EU would fall by an average of 37.5 percent compared to 2020. Until 2050, the German economy will operate largely neutral to CO2 – ie it will not ignite additional greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This is the intention of the German government in accordance with the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Green themes are becoming increasingly important to car makers

If car makers fail to achieve these goals, they face severe penalties – and beyond that, with heavy loss of reputation. All this has to avoid managers if they want to keep doing business well. Although the other sectors are still worse in the climate than car makers: the energy industry with its coal-fired power plants is so high on the list of climate sinners as steel producers, building materials manufacturers, or aviation. But the automotive industry is now the most important German industry and is therefore in the public eye.

In the case of personal cars, widespread electrification with a hybrid and clean battery should in the future save the balance of the CO2 fleet. But German manufacturers also know that this will not be enough for consumers in the future. Sustainability and environmental protection are no longer marginal questions for eco-motivated, but have long been in the middle of society. Car buyers no longer want to know how many CO2 emissions a vehicle emits per kilometer in the air. They also want to answer the question of how much – or even better – a little CO2 emissions in the production of their cars.

So far, car manufacturers have been happy to report water saving and green electricity use in their plants, but they prefer not to let CO2 emissions. One of the reasons is that steel works in large car factories. So far coal is needed almost everywhere, which endangers the overall balance of CO2 in the car factory. However, moving with e-cars seems to be things on the move. Large German manufacturers are obviously struggling to manage their car plants with less CO2 emissions – and they take a lot of money into their hands.