VW Gets Sued Over Climate Lobbying as Maersk & Spain Explore Green Fuel Partnership: GMPB 

Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Policy Brief: VW taken to court by investors after withholding climate lobbying information; Could T&E campaigners be wrong on Euro 7 proposals for better air quality in cities?; Maersk and the Spanish Government to explore green fuels production; The first report comparing car taxation across Europe outlines inconsistencies.

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VW taken to court by investors after withholding climate lobbying information. Volkswagen AG is facing legal action after it has repeatedly refused to reveal crucial information surrounding its corporate climate lobbying, according to a press release by Client Earth. Institutional shareholders have taken action after suspicions that the company has been undertaking climate lobbying activities counteracting the company’s stated climate ambitions, which investors say threatens the security of their investment, as well as green transitions. The investors repeatedly attempted to access information on potential misalignments, which were stalled by VW, forcing the investors to create an agenda item at Volkswagens’ 2022 ATM. The company vetoed this item as well, giving the investor’s no option but to take the matter to court. The case will clarify whether VW has the right to refuse to include the item on the AGM agenda. This is the first case of investors starting European litigation on a climate-related matter. The triumph of the Paris agreement relies on responsible and honest corporate lobbying. Pia Axelsson from AP4, a claimant in the case, said that they were “‘disappointed that the company has taken such a clear stance of opaqueness regarding their possible affiliation with negative climate lobbying, something which could counteract the necessary transition to net zero economy”. – Bethan Alderson

Could T&E campaigners be wrong on Euro 7 proposals for better air quality in cities? T&E campaigners are adamant that the answer to urban air quality issues lies in electric vehicles, the forthcoming Euro 7 vehicle emissions standards, and not in e-fuels. However, Fuels Europe, a body representing 38 companies in the liquid fuels sector, claims that urban air quality can only be improved when one considers the entire vehicle fleet, as well as industrial and building systems. Consequently, Fuels Europe suggests that for every EV or Euro7 ICE car that is added to the road, an older Euro 6 or pre-Euro 6 vehicle needs to be removed, as these can have emissions levels between 10x and 1000x of today’s Euro 6d vehicles. In contrast, T&E’s proposals, which include stringent pollution limits and a modified testing regime, would, according to Fuels Europe, have the effect of significantly increasing vehicle costs and discourage the production and sale of new vehicles. In turn, higher costs could have the effect of slowing down the fleet turnover and lengthen the life of the older, less efficient, vehicles. To combat this, Fuels Europe’ suggests a fit-for-purpose Euro 7 proposal that would implement and maintain affordable (ICE/hybrid) vehicles, whilst maintaining today’s levels of turnover. It would also implement measures to accelerate the removal of older vehicles (scrappage of older vehicles, identification and removal of exhausts tampered with and support buying newer Euro 6d level vehicles or EV’s). – Bethan Alderson & Thomas Hayden-Lefebvre

Maersk and the Spanish Government to explore green fuels production. The Danish shipping giant A.P, Moller – Maersk and the Spanish Government have entered into a “General Protocol for Collaboration ” to explore opportunities for the large scale production of green fuels in Spain. According to the company, the cooperation could deliver up to 2 million tonnes of green fuels per annum if fully implemented. Under the plans, the two regions being studied, Andalusia and Galicia, could see up to 85,000 jobs created. “We are living in a climate emergency, and we need to rapidly accelerate the availability of green future fuels.” Soren Skou, CEO, A.P. Moller – Maersk said. Soku continued on to say  “we are very pleased to explore green fuel opportunities with the Spanish Government, as the country holds key characteristics to help solve this challenge with its great hydrogen ambitions and aspiring sustainability goals. At the same time, Spain encompasses significant renewable resources and is placed along key shipping routes.” According to Pedro Sánchez, President of the Government of Spain, “This project is perfectly aligned with Spain’s strategy of reindustrialisation, just transition and the green hydrogen roadmap, advancing in the fulfilment of the common commitment of decarbonisation of the European Union. It will also strengthen economic, political and commercial ties with Denmark, a partner and a friend in EU”. – Thomas Hayden-Lefebvre 

The first report comparing car taxation across Europe outlines inconsistencies. Last week Transport & Environment (T&E) published ‘The Good Tax Guide’ – the first ever report comparing car taxation across Europe – revealing inconsistencies in approaches to EV incentives. The report compares systems of private and salary car taxation from 31 European countries to compare varying development of electrification across the continent, based on tax differentials. According to T&E, Governments should apply taxation according to the ‘polluter pays’ principle, whilst introducing incentives for BEVs. In the early phase of the transition, the best taxation is a high tax burden on polluting cars and low taxes on zero-emission cars. The tax differential for a typical BEV usually correlates with the uptake of cars in the country. The report found that 10 countries do not have car taxes, 9 do not have an acquisition tax and 4 do not have an ownership tax, which correlates with the tax differentials. The highest tax differentials are found in Malta, Norway and Denmark, for small cars, and the lowest in Bulgaria, Belgium and Cyprus. Positively, 23 of the 31 countries have introduced purchase grants for buying low and zero-emissions, which has helped accelerate the uptake of BEVs in Europe, reducing emissions.- Bethan Alderson