In 2015, the world watched as its leaders rallied for a landmark meeting in Paris, and made the decision to fight climate change together. The Paris agreement will enter into force this November, and Germany clearly can’t wait to get started. At its recent meeting, the German government gave unanimous support to a proposal to end all sales of new combustion-engine vehicles by 2030. This move is great news for the environment, and it may also signal a major change for the global automotive industry.
The decision comes within days of the Paris Agreement gaining enough support through ratification to be able to move forward. So far only 75 of 197 countries have officially approved the agreement, whose goal is to cut greenhouse gas emissions to limit the planet’s temperature increase to a 1.5°C rise within this century. Now Germany is boldly pushing to remove greenhouse gas-pumping cars from the roads as soon as possible, says Gizmodo UK. Vice President of Germany’s Greens party Oliver Krischer clarified the country’s stand via Channel NewsAsia, stating that
“If the Paris agreement to curb climate-warming emissions is to be taken seriously, no new combustion engine cars should be allowed on roads after 2030.”
In order to meet the Paris agreement’s climate goals, Germany aims to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 95% by 2050, says Spiegel Online. So far, the government’s efforts to promote purchase premiums and popularize electric vehicles locally have not been successful at driving the tech’s adoption. Now, this new “restriction” may jump-start some exciting design innovation among German automakers. With the recent recalls of VW cars for incorrect emissions readings, and more recalls due to fuel leaks just yesterday, an industry reboot could be in order.
Given the size of Germany’s share in the global auto market, this shift may be setting a new course for the world’s car industry. It could also be the beginning of a larger global trend of aggressively adopting cleaner technologies across many fields. Scientists and environmental watchdogs have been warning us to change our polluting ways for decades, but commercial airline travel and gas-thirsty car designs have only become more popular. By now, a mountain of evidence shows that our cars are major contributors to the problem of global warming. The simple truth is that we love our cars- but it’s time for them to get a serious upgrade.
Perhaps Germany’s decision is not as aggressive as it seems. The Paris Agreement asks for all countries to put forward their best efforts to achieve the treaty’s goals, and to set and meet achievable Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Germany is simply doing its part. And while some may fear that cars will never be the same, maybe we should have faith in the country that brought us the modern internal combustion engine. Who knows? We might even like the look of a BMW sedan with a shiny new motor.