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Sep 10 2008

About dirty cars and climate change

Published by at 2:54 pm under Europe,Opinion

First reported on my old blog on 24/4/2007. 

More than a few weeks have passed since my last “rant” against the German car industry and its apparant inability to lead the world into an era of clean cars. (Or lack of interest, or whatever the reason….) 

Then I predicted the German media would start to put the screws on its “lazy, disinterested and environment-unfriendly” car industry. Until today it hasn’t happened. A number of smaller publications have published critical articles, but to date the mainstream and main media have been very “soft” on their car industry. 

Last week the boss of Audi outlined his plans for the company up to 2015 (when he wants Audi to be the leading luxury car in the world) and again these plans did not include one sentence about environment-friendly engines. 

It’s clear: This guy under-estimates the whole climate change issue and is in for a shock. (For the why, read article below.) 

Why am I so disappointed in the German car industry? Well, I could explain this in a negative way, or in a positive way. Let me try both. 

First the negative explanation: The car as we know it today is pretty much something given to the world by the Germans. Even if they did not invent the thing (let’s not get into that debate), they were probably the “car nation” during the whole of the 20th century. In this period they exported millions and millions of their cars all over the world. Since these cars have always been (to a bigger or lesser degree) environment-unfriendly, the German car industry has been a world-wide polluter for the past century. Yes, together with other car manufacturing countries. But: The “others” followed in the footsteps of the German car industry for most of the past 100 years. Germany was the leader. The others just played catch-up.

In the last years Germany probably lost the title of “leader”. But my point: Why didn’t Germany lead the world into a clean era when it still could? 

One could also put a positive slant to this rant: Japan is probably the current “car nation” of the world. And it’s taking the “greener engine” challenge seriously. 

In the meantime the world’s climate is in big trouble. The whole continent of Africa (which has nothing to do with the whole climate change thing in the first place) is facing the dire consequences like no other continent.

At this point the world needs a hero. If the German car industry could come up with a “clean car solution” at this point, it’ll be a hero for the next 100 years and Germany the “car nation” again for the next century. 

The chips are down. The incentive big. All that’s needed is for someone to step forward and lead…. 

And the German car industry? It’s showing no interest in the whole issue. No desire to be a hero. No desire to save the world’s climate. In fact, with it’s Porsche Cayennes and Maybachs it’s turning it’s back on the world and the climate change problem. 

That’s very disappointing to me. 

But, there’s still time. What is needed now are shareholders (capitalists) with foresight. Shareholders of car companies must unite in pressure groups and put the screws on their boards for change. We need capitalists “big” enough to sacrifice their short-term financial well-being for the long-term well-being of the planet. 

The shareholders of German car companies are mostly German companies, public authorities and individuals. 

So, Germany. Are you going to rise to the occassion?

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