VWGate Threatens To Sink Germany’s Climate Crusade

pinnochioThe diesel-cheating affair that toppled Volkswagen AG’s chief executive officer deepened as Germany announced plans to widen its investigation and the scandal threatened to ensnare rival BMW AG. BMW plunged as much as 9.7 percent after a German magazine reported Thursday that a diesel version of the X3 sport utility vehicle emitted as much as 11 times the European limit for air pollution in a road test. The entire auto industry and the methods used for testing vehicles are coming under scrutiny following revelations that VW’s “clean diesel” cars have software intended to defeat emissions tests. –Naomi Kresge and Tony Czuczka, Bloomberg, 24 September 2015

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s lectures on environmental responsibility may ring a little hollow when she heads to New York this weekend. Merkel, who for years has straddled between pushing to reduce global warming while protecting her country’s auto industry, is faced with Volkswagen AG’s emissions-cheating scandal just as she travels to the United Nations to cajole leaders into making binding commitments ahead of a global climate summit in Paris in December. A day before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that VW admitted to systematically cheating on air pollution tests for years, Merkel lauded the auto industry for its contribution in fighting global warming. –Patrick Donahue, Bloomberg, 21 September 2015

Beginning in the mid-1990s, mindful of their commitments to cut carbon emissions, Europe’s governments embarked on a prolonged drive to convert their car fleets from gasoline to diesel. With generous use of tax preferences, they succeeded. In the European Union as a whole, diesel vehicles now account for more than half of the market. In France, the first country to cross that threshold, diesel now accounts for roughly 80 percent of motor-fuel consumption. Except that the switch to diesel probably didn’t cut greenhouse gases. VW may have perpetrated one of the biggest frauds in corporate history. Europe’s clean-diesel strategy, which set the scene for that fraud, may be the most expensive mistake in the history of environmental policy. –Clive Crook, Bloomberg, 23 September 2015

Amid all the reporting of Volkswagen’s rigging of emission tests on its diesel cars, one inconvenient truth has been overlooked by the BBC and many media organisations. It is that we very largely owe the prevalence of these death-traps to the pernicious tyranny of the Green lobby. In their deafness to different points of view — in fact, in their rank intolerance of opposing voices — these people often remind me of religious fundamentalists. They shout down, or seek to censor, those who don’t agree with them. The pity is that mainstream media such as the all-powerful BBC are themselves cowed and meekly quiescent, so that a highly intelligent and well-informed climate-change sceptic such as the former Tory Chancellor Nigel Lawson is virtually excluded from the airwaves. Volkswagen has emerged from this story as a devious and untrustworthy conglomerate. But the biggest lesson of this debacle is that successive British governments have sacrificed the interests of ordinary citizens as they have caved in to the demands of a dangerous bunch of zealots. –Stephen Glover, Daily Mail, 24 September 2015

History testifies unmistakably that the earth is extremely stingy in volunteering to humans “what she has within her.” Indeed, what the earth has within her are mere raw materials, by themselves useless unless and until human creativity discovers not only how to transform them into actual resources and outputs that improve human well-being. The Pope is vocal about helping the world’s poor. I believe that he’s sincere. So I sincerely hope that he comes to realize that the greatest of all sins against humanity would be the suppression of those capitalist institutions that have proven to be the only practical means of transforming what the earth has within her into a bounty of goods and services that allows the masses, for the first time in history, to live lives of material abundance and dignity upon her. –Donald J. Boudreaux, Cafe Hayek, 21 September 2015