Broken Promises Greenpeace Fumes at German Carmakers

Greenpeace is pointing its finger at auto giants like Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen, saying their new cars emit more carbon dioxide than earlier models. The new findings blacken the environmental report cards of the German firms -- and undermine an industry trend of flaunting green credentials.


Greenpeace accuses Porsche cars of being Germany's worst CO2 emitters.
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Greenpeace accuses Porsche cars of being Germany's worst CO2 emitters.

Greenpeace is reporting that all brands of German cars -- with the notable exception of the Smart -- are emitting far more greenhouse gases than stipulated in an industry-wide "voluntary agreement" sealed a decade ago.

"They are all way above the emissions limit of 140 grams per kilometer that they had agreed on for the year 2008," Germany's largest environmental organization lamented in a statement released on Thursday.

In the new study, the first of its kind, Greenpeace gave Porsche the unenviable accolade of biggest CO2 emitter: on average its carbon dioxide emissions increased from 274.4 grams per kilometer in 2002 to 287 last year -- twice the industry's agreed goal. Citing data from the European Commission and the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA),Greenpeace Magazin also showed Audi and Volkswagen cars were blasting more greenhouse gases through their exhaust pipes than five years ago.

But it conceded that BMW, Mercedes, Ford und Opel all slightly reduced CO2 emmissions. BMW, the world's biggest luxury auto firm, made the most progress: In 2007 its cars produced 173.1 grams on average, a reduction of some 20 grams on five years back.

But the improvements remain a drop in the ocean. German car firms, which have eked out a niche at the luxury, more polutant end of the market, severely lag behind European Union proposals. The EU executive, the European Commission, wants to cut CO2 emissions from cars to 130 grams per kilometer by 2012 as part of an ambitious plan to lead the world in reining in climate change. But auto-making nations, led by Germany, have been applying pressure to weaken the plan.

Interestingly, Greenpeace also found that German car companies tended to sell most of their less polluting models in other European markets. Within German borders, customers favored more powerful models, a phenomenon the environmental group blamed on tax breaks for company cars.

And the Greenpeace findings make a mockery of the car industry trend toward green advertising, or greenwashing, as it has been dubbed by cynics. "Green" was the theme at last year's International Motor Show in Frankfurt, where global car companies parade their new creations to the media. Cars that were billed as environmentally sensitive in their design and production stole the show, despite the wealth of high-horsepower vehicles.

jas -- with wire reports.

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