European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA)

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Climate Lobbying Overview: Despite positive top-line communications on long-term climate ambition, the European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA) has consistently lobbied against higher CO2 standards for vehicles - more specifically a 2035 EU zero-emissions target, which would effectively phase out the sale of ICE-powered vehicles. The organization is actively promoting the use of e-fuels over policy to enable the electrification of the transportation sector.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: CLEPA’s top-line messaging on climate policy appears to have become more positive in 2021. CLEPA appeared to previously emphasize concerns around "technological innovation" and "acceptance by citizens" regarding a 2050 EU climate law in a February 2020 consultation response and in a March 2020 press release, stating that "it is not possible to forecast reliably such progress or prescribe it by policy in the long-term perspective up to 2050", further advocating for regular reviews and potential adjustments to the strategy. However, in its 2021 communications, for example in a February 2021 position paper and in a June 2021 press release, CLEPA stated its commitment to the goals of the Paris Agreement, alongside supporting EU climate neutrality by 2050. In a July 2021 joint letter, CLEPA called for the strengthening of policy instruments in the autos sector to meet the EU’s objective of reaching climate neutrality by 2050. Despite this, the industry association appears broadly unsupportive of the need for stringent government intervention to respond to climate change, for example, in a February 2021 consultation response, and in a February 2021 position paper, the organization stated that the “burden resulting from the legislative agenda should be analyzed and limited”.

Engagement with Climate-Related Regulations: CLEPA appears to have mostly negative engagement with climate-related regulations, including opposing higher CO2 emissions standards for vehicles in the EU during 2019-22. In a February 2021 EU consultation response, the industry association stated that it did not support any date at which CO2 targets should become zero-emissions, effectively opposing a phase-out of ICE-powered vehicles in the EU. It also did not support higher 2030 CO2 emissions standards for cars and vans in a November 2021 EU consultation response, opposing the “de facto ban on the internal combustion engine” by 2035. In an April 2022 press release, CLEPA supported a vote by the EU Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) in favour of reducing the CO2 emissions reduction target for light-duty vehicles proposed by the Commission from 100% to 90%, effectively opposing a phase-out of ICE-powered vehicles in the EU. CLEPA has consistently advocated for the inclusion of e-fuel credits in the CO2 emissions standards legislation as a way to prolong the life of ICE vehicles beyond zero-emissions targets, for example in a November 2021 press release.

CLEPA’s Secretary General, Sigrid de Vries, has been particularly vocal in opposing higher CO2 standards in the EU. In a July 2021 press release de Vries appeared to oppose the zero-emission tailpipe CO2 target in 2035, and argued in a May 2021 joint letter that the current vehicle CO2 methodology is incompatible with net-zero 2050 objectives.

CLEPA has further advocated for the inclusion of road transport in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), for example in a February 2020 consultation response and on its corporate website in 2021. The industry association has also been advocating for the role of low-carbon fuels (without clear definitions) in EU road transport policy. For example, it appeared to support the inclusion of low-carbon fuels in the EU's Renewable Energy Directive (RED)’s targets and sub-targets in February 2021 and November 2021 EU consultation responses, as well as in a list of policy recommendations sent to the European Commission in May 2020, found via FOI. Despite calling for more ambition and higher quotas for sustainable renewable fuels, such a revision to the policy could lead to the inclusion of fossil fuels in the directive. Separately, CLEPA has consistently appeared to oppose the EU's Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), for example in a November 2021 position paper and in a March 2020 consultation response, where it highlighted numerous risks for the EU economy and automotive supply industry. In February 2022, CLEPA signed a joint statement asking the EU Commission to assess the impact of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) on downstream industries, in which It appeared not to fully support the CBAM, suggesting that it may cause carbon leakage if unspecified “necessary steps” are not taken. It appeared to support the Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), but also stressed that unilateral action may cause carbon leakage.

Positioning on Energy Transition: CLEPA has consistently lobbied against an effective 2035 EU ICE phase-out date for cars and vans, most recently in a November 2021 EU consultation response. CLEPA has repeatedly advocated for the use of e-fuels over the full electrification of road transportation, including in a February 2021 position paper, where it stated that “a ban is not necessary as climate-neutral internal combustion with renewable and low carbon fuels is a viable option for new vehicles and the existing fleet”. It has consistently called for a technology-neutral approach in the shift to low-emission vehicles, including ICE vehicles, over the full electrification of transportation, for example in a February 2020 EU consultation response and a July 2021 press release sent to the European Commission, found via FOI. In another July 2021 document outlining the High-Level Roundtable on Green Deal ramifications sent to the European Commission found via FOI, CLEPA asserted that “no technology should be banned” and that the “focus should be on the energy that is used to move vehicles, rather than on the technology only”. In April 2022, CLEPA published a ‘10 point action plan’ for a mobility transition pathway in the EU with other automotive sector industry associations, advocating for a "technology open" approach to achieving decarbonization, including promoting the use of e-fuels, as well as arguing that defossilization of the mobility sector should take place in the mid- to long-term, as opposed to the short-term. CLEPA Secretary General, Sigrid de Vries, has been particularly vocal in calling for a technology-neutral approach over the electrification of transportation, for example in a December 2021 press release. In a March 2021 press release, de Vries argued that “technology should be allowed to deliver on climate neutrality, rather than regulation prescribing or banning technology”. She also signed a joint letter in May 2021, stating that “electrified vehicles should not gain a technology monopoly achieved through an abrupt ICE phase-out”.

Despite this opposition to stringent regulation, CLEPA has broadly supported other forms of policy to incentivize lower carbon transport. CLEPA appeared to advocate for an exemption of energy taxation for sustainable renewable fuels in the Energy Taxation Directive (ETD) in an April 2020 consultation response, although it is unclear whether this would include only non-fossil based fuels, or fossil fuels too. In an April 2021 press release, CLEPA appeared to support higher ambition in the EU's Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive (AFID) and Energy Taxation Directive (ETD), while also supporting a crediting scheme to promote e-fuels and other fuels, again without clearly stating whether such fuels must be fossil-based or zero-emissions. The industry association has supported binding targets for EU member states for charging and refueling infrastructure, for example, in a February 2021 position paper and in a November 2020 EU consultation response. In a November 2021 consultation response, CLEPA directly advocated to policymakers to support higher EU electric vehicle infrastructure targets.

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