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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Germany's Coalition Agrees to Carbon-Free Plan After Marathon Talks


7Dnews London

Fri, 20 Sep 2019 11:24 GMT

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will on Friday September 20th announce a major new climate protection plan drawn up by parties in her coalition as a result of overnight talks dragging over 16 hours, according to Reuters. This comes ahead of Friday's global day of protests by activists demanding action on climate change.

The plan covers a number of measures from tackling emissions in the energy and industrial sectors to incentives for zero-emission electric vehicles or public transport.

The parties are searching for a deal aimed at setting the direction of Europe's largest economy for the coming decades. The Social Democrats (SPD), keen to offer concrete evidence that it is achieving something in government, wants a carbon dioxide tax to fund social support for those who lose out from the transition.

Lars Klingbeil, general secretary of the Social Democrats, said it was "better to negotiate for an extra hour and get an ambitious climate package in the end".

"There are difficult decisions to be taken," he told public radio when asked why talks were so lengthy. "The challenges are huge - exiting coal power, building out renewable energy, cutting carbon dioxide emissions."

Merkel's Conservatives want a market-based scheme involving trading in certificates allowing the bearer to emit carbon, a scheme optically less like a tax, with proceeds funding support for companies' research and investment.

The party officials were negotiating over the question of how to set a price for each tonne of carbon used in heating buildings and in transport, and what that price should be.

If agreed, the plan will be the world's largest experiment yet in limiting emissions of the carbon dioxide that is driving climate change.

Around 400 climate protests are planned across Germany on Friday to join student activists in other parts of the world, with schoolchildren inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg's Fridays for Future movement planning to mass outside Merkel's office, according to Reuters.

The efforts come as climate worries head to the top of the political and public agenda in the EU's biggest economy. A poll for public television showed that 63% of Germans thought protecting the climate was more important than economic growth.

Germany is set to miss climate targets for next year but has committed itself to meeting the 2030 goal of a 55% cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels.

Under a draft policy plan that Merkel's government was haggling over, a commitment of at least €100 billion ($110 billion) is planned on climate protection by 2030, according to AFP.

But a key sticking point remains. How does a state effectively price harmful carbon emissions from oil, gas and coal into economic activity in order to promote the usage of clean alternatives?