Germany lowers CO2 reduction targets for industry - document

by Reuters
Friday, 11 November 2016 16:28 GMT

The sun rises behind the billowing chimneys of a power station in Berlin, November 27, 2013. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

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"We need a government that takes climate protection seriously instead of just claiming it does at international meetings"

(Updates with new details)

By Markus Wacket

BERLIN, Nov 11 (Reuters) - The German government has watered down its CO2 reduction targets for industry and utilities in the final version of its climate action plan, a document seen by Reuters on Friday showed, after the ruling coalition's junior partner opposed tougher goals.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government is determined to hammer out the final details of a climate plan this week so that Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks can present them at global climate talks in Morocco next week.

The government is now calling for the industrial sector to cut its CO2 emissions by only 20 percent by 2030 compared with 2014, according to the document. That is well below the previous target of a 30 percent reduction.

The plan sets out how Europe's biggest economy expects to move away from fossil fuels and meet its objective of cutting CO2 emissions by 95 percent by 2050. It is intended to implement pledges made by Germany as part of a global climate treaty agreed in Paris in September.

A leader of the Greens party, Anton Hofreiter, criticised the watered-down goals as another example of how Germany, which once considered itself a leader in climate protection, has gone off course.

"The climate protection plan remains just a skeleton," he said. "There still aren't any clear goals or measures. This government is afraid to tackle issues like more CO2-free vehicles on the road or closing down coal-burning plants.

"We need a government that takes climate protection seriously instead of just claiming it does at international meetings," he added.

In the new plan, the emissions-cutting target for power stations was reduced, although only slightly.

The document did not include a call for the introduction of a minimum price for pollution certificates in the European Union's carbon trading scheme, instead simply calling for more efficacy in the scheme.

Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, leader of the Social Democrats (SPD) who share power with Merkel's conservatives, blocked a deal late on Tuesday on the initial plan, aimed at reducing the country's CO2 emissions by 55 percent by 2030.

His unexpected veto came after trade union IG BCE, with the support of the large BDI industry group, raised concerns about plans for Germany to end its use of brown coal. Calls have grown for the country to set out a timetable for its withdrawal from coal in power production

Gabriel said it was important to achieve ambitious climate and energy policies that also take into account modernisation, economic growth and job security.

"The only way to get other countries to follow our ambitious climate protection targets is by combining climate protection at home with maintaining industrial jobs," Gabriel said.

(Reporting by Markus Wacket; Writing by Michael Nienaber and Erik Kirschbaum,; Editing by Andrea Shalal and Hugh Lawson)

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