The German Parliament is set to vote on a measure tomorrow that would change the definition of ‘green’ labeling that can be placed on cars. The new labeling would base green status on a weight to CO2 emissions ratio. This means that under the new standards a Porsche Cayenne Hybrid, a luxury SUV, which still has a CO2 output of close to 315 grams per mile would be labeled ‘green’ for sales purposes just as a Smart Car which produces much less CO2 output.
Arne Richters, a program manager at Transport & Environment, an organization that campaigns for more environmentally conscious policies with the European Commission, is among the many detractors to the new law. He explains the situation, quoted from SmartPlanet, as “The German car industry has persuaded its government to produce a green label that would put the Panzer tank in the same fuel efficiency category as a Smart car…The industry are treating their customers with contempt by conning them into thinking their gas guzzling SUVs are green.”
Although this type of conning by the oil and car industry is not new, anytime it happens is a major blow to the green movement. Germany’s Green Party won a victory a few months back in a regional election. However, if this law passes it will be far more significant, in terms of green policy influence, than a victory in regional elections.
However, there is some hope of this being stopped. The European Union has laws, specifically one 1999 law, against purposefully confusing consumers. This law is aimed at stopping exactly what is happening in Germany. It was put in place to stop car and oil companies from buying laws that allow their products to sell better at the expense of consumers.
I do not think there is any way the people involved in passing this law think they are doing the right thing. The change in label makes no sense. That is why I hope that the Greens in that country will put up a good fight and hopefully the law will fail tomorrow, but I would not bet on it.
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