NEW TECHNOLOGIES ARE THE KEY
MORE THAN 3,200 COMPANIES ARE REPRESENTED IN THE VDMA, THE GERMAN ENGINEERING FEDERATION. IT IS HELMED BY CARL MARTIN WELCKER, AN ENTREPRENEUR FROM COLOGNE, WHO NEVER MINCES HIS WORDS, FOR EXAMPLE WHEN IT COMES TO THE PRICING OF CO2. DEUTZWORLD DISCUSSED CURRENT TOPICS WITH HIM.
Mr. Welcker, what do the member companies of the VDMA think of your proposal to raise a price for carbon dioxide?
The VDMA has long advocated reasonable pricing for greenhouse gases. The idea behind it is that the best way to deal with climate change is through market-based methods. The price has to be set high enough to effect a change in direction, which ultimately leads to the avoidance of CO2. To this end, we solicited an expert report which determined that, if we redistribute the taxes and levies on the various energy sources such as electricity, heating oil, or gasoline and diesel based on what causes CO2 emissions in a revenue-neutral manner, one metric ton of CO2 would cost 110 euros. Electricity would be cheaper, gasoline and diesel a little more expensive, and fuel oil considerably more expensive. The total load for the consumers does not change.
How would CO2 pricing affect the industry in your opinion?
The effects of CO2 pricing have an indirect impact on mechanical engineering via our consumer segments. Only a small amount of CO2 is emitted in mechanical engineering. Naturally, depending on the product, the CO2 footprint of the individual machine manufacturers varies greatly. Our calculations show that pricing according to our expert report leads to relief for many companies.
How do you assess innovative drive solutions such as electromobility or alternative fuels against the background of the EU’s climate targets for 2030?
New technologies are the key to efficient climate protection. The Paris 2050 climate targets cannot be achieved without new solutions. The 2030 climate targets set by the EU are very ambitious and require enormous financial efforts. The taxpayer can expect politicians to use the limited budget resources where they have the greatest impact.
Hydrogen-based drives, e-fuels, and even electric drives are currently still very expensive and not yet competitive in many applications. For electric mobility in particular, there is a risk that this type of drive, which is particularly outstanding for inner-city traffic, will be introduced prematurely, namely before there is a proper infrastructure and before the electricity mix even allows a noticeable reduction in CO2 emissions by electric vehicles. There is a great risk that social acceptance will be lost as a result. We need a market-based approach to transport without limitation to specific technologies. In this respect, policies should be limited to setting reasonable framework conditions and otherwise leave it to the public to decide what the best solution is for them. This is where the circle closes again for reasonable pricing of greenhouse gases.
About the person
Carl Martin Welcker initially completed an apprenticeship as a machinist. Then he studied industrial engineering. After completing his studies, he worked for machine tool manufacturer Klingelnberg Söhne and an American knife and saw manufacturer. Since 1993, he has been managing partner of Alfred H. Schütte GmbH & Co. KG, Cologne. Carl Martin Welcker is involved in various honorary positions and has been President of the VDMA since November 2016.