Climate policy: 170 scientists see calculation errors in the electricity mix


Has politics made a fundamental miscalculation when it comes to the contribution made by electric cars to the climate? Unfortunately yes, say 170 scientists from all over the world. “The figures suggest a potential for savings that we don’t have,” says Professor Thomas Koch from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) of the dpa. Because the electricity mix was simply wrongly calculated.

“The question is not: electric car or combustion engine. The question is: fossil or not,” said Koch. In an open letter to the EU Commission, on the Stuttgart newspaper and Stuttgart news reported on Monday, voiced the scientists their concerns. Because the EU is currently in the process of reducing its CO2– To tighten the requirements for the newly registered cars in Europe again.

With 453,000 electric and plug-in vehicles sold in the first quarter, Europe is hot on the heels of China with 489,000 electric cars. And by country, Germany is already the second largest e-car market in the world, with almost 250,000 newly registered electric cars by the end of May. VW is now one of the drivers of development. Volkswagen plans to sell only a third of its cars with gasoline or diesel engines by 2030. Mercedes-Benz and BMW are aiming for a share of around 50 percent.

But the corporations do not want to set a fixed date for the end of the combustion engine. The markets and the wishes of customers are too different, and the political requirements too different. In addition, there is the charging infrastructure, which is missing in many countries, including Europe. And because it is ultimately about climate protection, it is even more important where the electricity for the electric cars actually comes from.

With electricity from coal or oil, he doesn’t see much point in switching to electric drives, said VW boss Herbert Diess at the Bilanz-Pk. “A modern diesel is more climate-friendly than an electric vehicle that is charged with electricity from coal,” said BMW boss Oliver Zipse Passauer Neue Presse / Donaukurier. He is “very worried” whether there will be enough green electricity.

In its specifications, the EU Commission assumes that electricity will become cleaner with the expansion of wind and solar systems. No, say Koch and his colleagues. Because the demand for electricity will rise even more – and then the whole bill will no longer be correct.

The federal government not only wants 10 million electric cars on the road by 2030, but also wants to quickly convert industry and heating. The electricity demand in Germany will increase from 56 to 57 gigawatts by 2030, says Koch. In 6000 of the 8760 hours a year, more electricity from fossil-fuel power plants will be needed in addition to green electricity. But politicians overlooked this in their debates and calculations, in any case not counting it. Then the real CO2-Emissions are much higher than the politicians estimate – in total even twice as high.

The scientists all agree that the climate is protected and the CO2-Emissions must be reduced, emphasized Koch. “For that we also need the electric car.” But the specifications also favored the e-car where it was of no use to the climate.

If green electricity were not supplemented with gas, oil and coal electricity, but with nuclear power, the bill would look better. But that was a political decision by the Germans, said Koch. If today’s combustion engines replace gasoline and diesel with CO2– neutrally produced synthetic fuel, on the other hand, 25 percent CO2 save on. But here, too, politics and industry took a different path today. In the interests of the climate, the EU Commission should reconsider its position before taking the next step, according to the scientists’ appeal.


To home page