European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA)

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Brussels , Belgium

Climate Lobbying Overview: The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) is actively lobbying on EU climate legislation with mixed and mostly negative engagement. In 2020-22, ACEA continues to advocate against numerous key EU climate policies for road transport, including ICE vehicle phase-out and higher CO2 standards for vehicles, while supporting increased electric vehicle infrastructure targets.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: ACEA supports the EU Green Deal and the EU’s goal to become climate neutral by 2050, with ACEA President, Oliver Zipse, telling EU Climate Commissioner Frans Timmermans that “the association has realized that there must be ambitious goals in order to stop climate change” in March 2021, as well as expressing its support more recently in a February 2022 joint statement. ACEA has also expressed support for the goals of the Paris Agreement in numerous communications, such as a November 2021 EU consultation response.

Engagement with Climate-Related Regulations: ACEA’s position around higher EU CO2 standards for light duty vehicles seems to alternate between strong opposition to a zero-emissions 2035 CO2 target, to one of conditional support based on numerous “enabling factors” primarily around infrastructure build out for a higher 2030 CO2 target. In a 2021 position paper, ACEA stated that higher 2030 CO2 targets are “very challenging”, but that it is “open to the further development of the current regulation”, conditioning its support on the exception that the legislation is linked to extensive “key enabling conditions” including linkages to the number of available EV charging points. However, a July 2021 ACEA press release responding to the EU's Fit for 55 package appeared to explicitly oppose a 2035 zero-emissions CO2 target for light duty vehicles, and suggested an increased 2030 CO2 target would be "simply not viable" without "significantly increased efforts by all stakeholders". Moreover, a November 2021 EU consultation response from ACEA appeared to similarly oppose a 2035 zero-emissions CO2 target, while stating that a 55% 2030 CO2 target for cars would be "challenging". It also argued that "it seems too early to fix the 2035 CO2 targets now" and proposed that a decision around the 2035 EU zero-emissions target be delayed until 2028. In March 2022, ACEA President, Oliver Zipse, publicly urged policymakers to delay setting the EU's zero-emission 2035 CO2 emissions target until "2040 at the earliest" and called for the decision on a zero-emissions CO2 target to be delayed until later in the 2020s according to a Politico report.

ACEA has also consistently supported extending the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to road transport, for example in a March 2021 position paper, a July 2021 press release and a November 2021 EU consultation response. In a June 2021 position paper, ACEA appeared unsupportive of a stringent EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), emphasizing competitiveness concerns while advocating that if applied it should include exemptions for counties with similar climate pricing or regulations, and only applied initially in a 'limited way' in 'certain specific sectors'. Moreover, in February 2022, ACEA signed a joint statement asking the EU Commission to assess the impact of the 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. In the same paper, ACEA also appeared to support the Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), but also stressed that unilateral action may cause carbon leakage.

A November 2021 EU consultation response from ACEA supported increased EU GHG emissions intensity targets for fuels and electricity, while also appearing to support weakening the EU's Renewable Energy Directive (RED) by advocating for the inclusion of low-carbon fuels in RED targets and sub-targets.

Positioning on Energy Transition: ACEA has mixed engagement with policies around a low-carbon transition for the automotive sector. The industry association has strongly supported policy to enable the roll-out of infrastructure to support the electrification of road transportation. In April 2021, ACEA signed a joint letter supporting substantial and ambitious reforms to the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive (AFID), and in July 2021 advocated for higher binding EU charging point targets in the Fit for 55 package. A November 2021 EU consultation response and a January 2022 fact sheet published by ACEA further called for increased stringency and ambition for charging and refueling infrastructure in the AFIR proposal across all EU member states.

However, ACEA is highly critical of more stringent policy measures aimed at promoting electrification, in particular sales targets for electric vehicles. In a February 2022 Automobiliewoche article, ACEA President, Oliver Zipse, was reported to have directly advocated to policymakers to oppose internal combustion engine bans in Germany and Europe at a closed-door meeting inside the German federal parliament. Moreover, in a March 2022 Politico report ACEA's President, Oliver Zipse, publicly stated opposition to a phase of out ICE vehicles in the EU by 2035, urging the EU to delay the date until "2040 at the earliest". Similarly, ACEA appeared to strongly oppose EU measures to phase out ICE vehicles by 2035 in July 2021, with Zipse stating that "we urge all EU institutions to focus on innovation rather than mandating, or effectively banning, a specific technology". Furthermore, in a November 2020 Handelsblatt media report, ACEA was heavily critical of the UK’s phase out of internal combustion engine vehicles by 2030. ACEA also criticized the EU’s Sustainable Finance Taxonomy for its focus on electric vehicles over low-emission ICE vehicles in comments reported by Euractiv in November 2020. Additionally, a November 2021 ACEA consultation response to the Energy Taxation Directive appeared unsupportive of higher EU-wide minimum taxes on diesel and natural gas for transport while supporting lower tax rates for biofuels.

ACEA has also supported expanding gas infrastructure for road transport, signing a joint letter in January 2020 calling on policymakers to support gas infrastructure. It also called for the continued inclusion of natural gas under the Alternative Fuels Directive in a February 2020 press release, and advocated for more CNG and LNG refueling stations for heavy duty vehicles in a November 2021 EU consultation response.