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Brussels environmental lobby fights hard

It has been a matter of life and death since the German government intervened in the EU in April in favor of alternative fuels. The e-fuel lobby wanted to derail mass electrification, explained William Todts, Executive Director of Transport & Environment (T&E). His organization, which not only played a leading role in establishing electromobility in Brussels, now sees itself threatened by the openness of technology and is fighting tooth and nail. The latest coup is the claim that emissions from e-fuel vehicles are five times higher than those from battery-powered cars.

Back in April, Todts was convinced that e-fuels could never become a real competitor for electric cars. The old oil industry is not interested in real competition between the systems, because the electric car is the death of the oil industry, says the T&E manager. Seen in this light, it is currently a struggle between two "doomed men". Todt names the "auto-oil complex" and the "e-fuel gang" as his opponents. With such opponents, tricks and feints are obviously permissible, especially as there is a lot of green morale on his own side.

Against the backdrop of its own reputation and with reference to its scientific expertise, T&E repeatedly resorts to studies. In April, a T&E study came to the conclusion that a small car running on green e-fuels in 2030 would have average CO₂ emissions of 35 grams of CO2 per km. With the current power plant mix for electricity generation for e-fuel production, however, higher values would be achieved for synthetic fuel by 2030, namely around 200 g CO2/km. In comparison, diesel and petrol would achieve 201 g CO2/km and 211 g CO2/km respectively. T&E says that synthetic fuels will therefore only perform slightly better than their fossil counterparts by 2030, to the detriment of the environment. This is because every gram of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels causes additional damage to the climate, unlike e-fuels, which only emit CO2 that was previously extracted from the air, for example, and therefore has a climate-neutral effect.

In another study, T&E "unmasked" electricity-based fuel as an emitter not only of CO2, but also of all kinds of harmful exhaust gas components in high concentrations. For the test, an institute in Belgium had mixed its own fuel, which had nothing to do with e-fuels. The institute later distanced itself from the T&E interpretation of its study.

This laboratory blend of a fuel now serves as one of the comparison factors in the current T&E study from last month. It concludes that the CO2 emissions of e-fuel vehicles are five times higher than those of battery-powered cars over the course of their product life. The result is not surprising. However, independent experts analyzing the data found that the combustion engines in this study had to compete under the most unfavorable conditions imaginable. In contrast, optimal conditions were assumed for the electric cars. In this study, T&E also refrained from attributing the production of drive energy to the electric car. The experts therefore also see this T&E study as a risky attempt by T&E to jeopardize its own scientific reputation for environmental policy goals. (aum)

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