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Germany's Efforts to Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions From Cars: Anticipating a New Regulatory Framework and Its Significance for Environmental Policy

April 2008

Citation: ELR 10214

Author: Kerry E. Rodgers

Editors' Summary: In this Article, Kerry E. Rodgers presents an overview of Germany's current efforts to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from cars, including discussions of the proposed European Union legislation to set binding CO emissions targets for cars and supporting measures. She identifies several factors that appear to be driving Germany's efforts: (1) ambitious national commitments to reduce CO emissions; (2) the desire to show global leadership on climate protection; (3) recent events that have drawn public attention to climate protection and "clean cars"; and (4) traditions in German environmental policy such as a political and scientific consensus on the need for climate protection, the tradition of viewing environmental regulation as a way to competitive advantage, and public experience with taxes as an environmental policy tool. She also identifies perceived challenges for change, including the car industry, consumer behavior, and features of governance structures, and argues that the debate in Germany over CO emissions from cars merits watching because of its potential significance for three areas of environmental policy: (1) the future of voluntary, self-regulatory agreements in Europe; (2) the value of an international legal and political framework in developing national environmental policy; and (3) the interrelatedness of environmental policies toward cars with broader energy and transport policies and climate protection initiatives.

Kerry E. Rodgers researched this Article through a 2007 McCloy Fellowship in Environmental Affairs from the American Council on Germany (ACG) and is now an attorney with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The views expressed in this Article do not necessarily represent the views of the NHTSA or the United States. The author is grateful for the generous support of the ACG for this research and thanks the experts interviewed for sharing their time and expertise. She also thanks Kushilani Wijesiri for research assistance at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Library and Documentation Centre in Bonn, Michael Mehling and Tilman Heuser for their help with contacts in Germany, Ted Mathys of ACG for his assistance with the fellowship, and Tara Rodgers for her review of earlier drafts of this Article.

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