No–Germany Is Not Launching Zero Emission Vehicles Anytime Soon

By Paul Gipe

It’s amusing to watch the blogosphere go wild with certain memes. (We used to call them themes.) The latest is that Germany is going to mandate all cars must be zero emission vehicles by 2030.

It started at a web site promoting electric vehicles (EVs),, and then jumped to the Globe and Mail, the self-styled paper of record in Canada.

The story is, once you get past the headline, that Germany’s deputy economic minister, Rainer Baake, said at a conference in Berlin that moving to zero emission vehicles was a good idea. That’s it.

He didn’t say that the ruling coalition—in which his party, Die Grünen, is not even a member—had decided to do this, that a bill had been introduced or any of the other possibilities.

No. It was just an idea. A good idea to be sure. If this was true it would be HUGE as a candidate that shall not be named would say. Germany, the car capital of Europe, the manufacturer of big, high-end gasoline- and diesel-powered cars, switching to EVs within 15 years would be breathtaking.

It’s one thing when a false meme about Norway doing this goes around. It’s quite another when a similar false story line goes around about Germany. Few ever get past the headline, let alone read the fine print. It’s the meme that’s important.

And maybe that’s what Baake wanted. He’s been taking a lot of well-deserved flak of late. As the faithful sidekick to the SPD’s powerful Sigmar Gabriel, Baake has been the point person in lowering the boom on Germany’s Energiewende and taking renewables out of the hands of Germany’s Bürgers—its citizens—and handing wind and solar over to the very people who have fought so vigorously against the Energiewende—the utilities. (See the articles by Ann Leidreiter, Parliamentarians can revive German Energiewende, Richard Fuchs, German cabinet puts brakes on clean energy transition, or Craig Morris, German legislators fight over policy rollback on renewables if you don’t think that’s true.)

Maybe this is a trial balloon. Maybe this is Baake’s way of putting pressure on his boss Gabriel. Maybe this is simply an effort to win some positive press for the German government—to green up its image. Whatever it is, it is not policy.

Still, it’s been entertaining to watch the backtracking. Who knows, maybe the Germans might have to do something now.

See also Craig Morris’ take: Germany not about to ban non-EVs.