Merkel pledges to entrench climate targets in law following criticism

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Merkel
Merkel

GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday pledged to entrench emissions targets in law following doubts about the legislation raised by a weekend report in Der Spiegel news magazine.

Merkel said this while speaking at the opening ceremony of the Climate Arena event in the south-west town of Sinsheim.

The report said that guarantees in proposed new legislation on cuts in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions were no longer included and that an expert forum to monitor the law had no teeth.

She emphasised the significance of a control mechanism in the new legislation, while noting widespread concerns over implementation.

“This monitoring, this supervision, will be entrenched unambiguously in the climate protection law,” Merkel said.

She pledged to ensure that there would be reliable and verifiable monitoring in the legislation, which is due for final approval by the cabinet on Wednesday.

Over the weekend, the Federal Environment Ministry published a draft version of the new law.

It contains no provision for an advisory forum of experts to draw up an annual report to verify the efficacy of the measures.

The forum is also not authorised to make proposals on how the relevant ministries could adjust their measures, if there is a likelihood that cuts in Carbon dioxide emissions will miss their targets.

The ministry’s draft at the beginning of the year provided for this, but drawn-out negotiations in Merkel’s broad coalition government resulted in their removal by the time agreement was reached on Sept. 20.

Over the weekend, Der Spiegel reported that the law’s wording had been watered down at the instigation of the conservative parties in the coalition.

The Environment Minister, Svenja Schulze of the Social Democrats (SPD), the junior coalition partner, denied this, tweeting that the climate package as presented in September would not be diluted.

Environmental organisations expressed anger.

“The national climate targets for 2040 and 2050, agreed by this government less than two years ago are simply no longer in there,” the BUND environmental and nature conservation federation said.

Christoph Bals of Germanwatch said: “The draft has hollowed out the climate protection law announced by the climate cabinet.”

The measures agreed in September had already been criticised by environmentalists as weak.

They include a provision for Carbon dioxide emissions rights to cost just 10 euros (11 dollars) per ton in 2021, with the price rising thereafter.

Merkel said on Monday that the government was complying with what had been agreed in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement with the aim of reaching climate neutrality by 2050.

“This is a very ambitious target,” Merkel said. “But I believe it is the right target.”

The government aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55 per cent by 2030 from 1990 levels, with Carbon dioxide pricing a key part of the package.

“We believe we should start a bit more slowly in order to take as many people as possible along with us,” Merkel said, while holding out the possibility of adjustments to ensure that annual targets were reached.

In its report, Der Spiegel cited a draft version of the law that it had obtained, in which there was no national goal for limiting Carbon dioxide emissions by 2040 in the final bill put forward by the Environment Ministry.

The legislation also avoided making a promise of greenhouse-gas neutrality by 2050, with the text now saying this goal would merely be “pursued,” the report said.

Chancellery head Helge Braun defended the legislation, predicting to national public broadcaster ZDF that the initial price of 10 euros per ton of carbon dioxide emissions would raise to 60 within a few years under a carbon-pricing mechanism. (dpa/NAN)

– Oct. 7, 2019 @ 14:50 GMT |

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