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GroKo plans: What's behind the new hassle over the climate

2019-10-07T16:23:19.505Z

The federal government is making its climate plans more concrete - and weakening them. Environment Minister Svenja Schulze rejects the criticism. The backgrounds.




The Chancellor is on the way in terms of climate: Angela Merkel took part in the opening ceremony of a "climate arena" in Sinsheim in northern Germany on Monday, together with Green Party Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann.

In Berlin meanwhile fierce criticism of the climate policy of the Chancellor. Because the planned Climate Protection Act of Minister of the Environment Svenja Schulze (SPD) should be weakened. As a result, environmental organizations, the Greens and the Left, accused Merkel's government of failing to adhere to climate policy.

Merkel and Schulze rejected the criticism. Schulze State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth said he could not understand the excitement. The law will "fundamentally improve" climate policy in Germany.

Where does the excitement come from? And how does the coalition deal with the issue? Answers to the most important questions.

Why is?

On September 20, the Grand Coalition had agreed on key points for the "Climate Protection Program 2030". This program, also referred to as the climate package, includes the introduction of a fixed price for CO2. It is currently being worked out on 180 to 200 pages and is to be decided on Wednesday by the Cabinet.

The paper, which will be the focus of attention this Monday, is a bill to improve Germany's carbon footprint. It comes from the pen of Schulze's ministry and is called the Climate Protection Act.

Schulze's law divides the German economy into six sectors - energy, industry, transport, buildings, agriculture, waste management and others - and determines for the period from 2021 to 2030 exactly which sector may still emit how many tonnes of CO2 per year. Responsible for compliance with these goals are the relevant ministries, such as the Ministry of Transport for the transport sector.

What is the problem?

Schulze had already presented the first draft of its Climate Protection Act at the end of February. This version was, as the SPIEGEL reported on Sunday evening, in some points much stricter formulated than the present draft bill.

The February version said that each ministry was solely responsible for emission reductions in its sector. If the approved emission limit is exceeded, the ministry responsible must submit within three months "an immediate program for the sector concerned".

In the key paper for the climate package, this formulation was almost identical. On September 20, after a long night of negotiations, both Merkel and other government and party representatives called it a great success that compliance with the climate goals is now strictly controlled. This will ensure that Germany does not miss its climate protection goals for the year 2030 as it will do in 2020.

However, in the current draft of Schulze's Climate Protection Act, the control mechanisms are now softened.

"The Federal Government is authorized to amend the annual emission levels of the sectors at the beginning of the following calendar year in each case by ordinance without the consent of the Federal Council," states the new draft.

The CO2 savings targets are therefore retained overall - but the quantities can now be shifted between sectors. Secretary of State Flasbarth confirmed this on Monday - but made it clear that such shifts are only possible between sectors that are not subject to European emissions trading. So in the sectors of buildings and agriculture - and in probably the largest CO2 problem sector, the traffic.

Environmentalists consider this mitigation problematic. The individual ministries are now less under pressure to meet their CO2 targets, they complain.

The current draft of Schulze's Climate Protection Act also contains further softening of control mechanisms. The so-called "Climate Council" - a government-appointed body of experts to monitor progress in reducing CO2 across sectors - has significantly less power than was envisaged in the February draft.

  • Unlike in the past, it is no longer intended to produce an annual main report that reviews the effectiveness of the planned climate protection measures.
  • Moreover, it should no longer be allowed to propose how the relevant ministries can readjust if CO2 savings targets in individual sectors of the economy are in danger of being missed.

Schulze's new draft also changed formulations for the long-term climate policy.

  • The purpose of the law was originally called the "avoidance of an anthropogenic disturbance of the climate system" - linked to the goal of achieving "net greenhouse gas neutrality" by the middle of the century. The current draft now states, in a much milder way, that "greenhouse gas neutrality should be pursued by 2050 as a long-term goal."
  • The interim target of cutting Germany's greenhouse emissions by at least 70 percent by 2040 has also been canceled without substitution.

Chancellor Merkel asserted on Monday that the monitoring of the climate targets would be "crystal clear in the law anchored".

How do the GroKo parties deal with the topic?

All three coalition partners have an interest in agreeing on the climate. And so the CDU, CSU and SPD praise the decisions of September 20 also in unison as a big hit and an important signal for the coalition's ability to find compromises.

Especially great is the pressure in the SPD. The Social Democrats vote at the beginning of December at their party congress on the mid-term review of the GroKo. Climate policy plays a key role in this process, together with the plans for basic pensions of Labor Minister Hubertus Heil.

Environmental expert Matthias Miersch made it clear on Monday that the SPD faction would "pay close attention to ensuring that the goal of greenhouse gas neutrality in 2050, including the necessary intermediate steps, is legally fixed". At the heart of the law is an effective control mechanism. If necessary, the Parliament must "sharpen" here.

In addition: The SPD is currently looking for a new party leadership. Two candidate teams renew their criticism of GroKo's plans. The draft for the climate protection law was "completely wrong", says Karl Lauterbach, who applies with Nina Scheer for the party chairmanship. Without a clear commitment to the objectives and a binding review and follow-up the law was ineffective. "We have to include climate protection as a state goal in the Basic Law," claims Lauterbach.

The duo Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter Borjans criticized, the Union is slowing down, with CDU and CSU was "clearly not to make a socially just and effective climate change." They demand that the SPD must work for a per capita climate premium as a necessary condition for an appropriate CO2 price and an energy transition fund. "In this way, we would combine effective climate protection with a fairer burden-sharing, even relieving small and medium-sized incomes without undermining the effect."

Source: spiegel

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