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ENVIRONMENT

Daimler’s Zetsche asks Berlin and Brussels to subsidise electric cars

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche on Thursday urged the EU Commission and the German government to provide financial assistance in the development of energy efficient electric cars.

Daimler's Zetsche asks Berlin and Brussels to subsidise electric cars
Photo: DPA

“To support the development of alternative engines, we need positive conditions,” Zetsche, who is also the head of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), told business daily Handelsblatt. “At the same time it’s necessary to build the appropriate infrastructure.”

Establishing new technology is unavoidably expensive, a cycle “we can only break if Europe supports the purchase of electric autos for a limited time,” he told the paper, adding that unified rules for the region would be ideal.

Zetzche can expect support from his German auto industry colleagues at a May 3 summit at the chancellery in Berlin, the paper said.

“We would welcome in the beginning phase government support for the acquisition of electric vehicles, which will be significantly more expensive than other vehicles,” BMW head Norbert Reithofer told the paper. “The EU Commission should also clarify how it plans to support electric autos.”

Meanwhile Volkswagen Chairman Martin Winterkorn also said he would like support to make electric cars a “reality on our streets.” And compared to what neighbouring country France has invested in similar programmes, this amount is “relatively low,” Winterkorn told the paper.

According to Handelsblatt, Germany is well behind other countries when it comes to subsidising the electric car market. In the US, customers receive tax breaks of more than €5,800, while Chinese buyers get some €6,700.

So far the government has only agreed to provide financial backing for research in the field, setting aside some €500 million for the goal of getting a million electric autos on German roads my 2020.

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CLIMATE CRISIS

Scorching summer was France’s second hottest on record

Three heatwaves since June produced France's second-hottest summer since records began in 1900, the Météo France weather service said on Tuesday, warning that scorching temperatures will be increasingly common as the climate crisis intensifies.

Scorching summer was France's second hottest on record

With 33 days of extreme heat overall, average temperatures for June, July and August were 2.3C above normal for the period of 1991-2020.

It was surpassed only by the 2003 heatwave that caught much of France unprepared for prolonged scorching conditions, leading to nearly 15,000 heat-related deaths, mainly among the elderly.

Data is not yet available for heat-related deaths this summer, but it is likely to be significantly lower than 15,000 thanks to preventative measures taken by local and national authorities. 

Most experts attribute the rising temperatures to the climate crisis, with Météo France noting that over the past eight summers in France, six have been among the 10-hottest ever.

By 2050, “we expect that around half of summer seasons will be at comparable temperatures, if not higher,” even if greenhouse gas emissions are contained, the agency’s research director Samuel Morin said at a press conference.

The heat helped drive a series of wildfires across France this summer, in particular a huge blaze in the southwest that burned for more than a month and blackened 20,000 hectares. 

Unusually, wildfires also broke out even in the normally cooler north of the country, and in total an area five times the size of Paris burned over the summer. 

Adding to the misery was a record drought that required widespread limits on water use, with July the driest month since 1961 – many areas still have water restrictions in place.

MAP: Where in France are there water restrictions and what do they mean?

Forecasters have also warned that autumn storms around the Mediterranean – a regular event as air temperatures cool – will be unusually intense this year because of the very high summer temperatures. A storm that hit the island of Corsica in mid August claimed six lives. 

“The summer we’ve just been through is a powerful call to order,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Monday, laying out her priorities for an “ecological planning” programme to guide France’s efforts against climate change.

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