Berlin forges deal on carbon emissions
30 March 2004
BERLIN – The German government reached a compromise deal on carbon dioxide emission targets early Tuesday to meet a European Union deadline and ward off a dispute threatening the Social Democrat-Greens coalition.
In the last-ditch meeting, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder personally took over to get his feuding Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement (SPD) and Environment Minister Juergen Trittin (Greens) to agree on compromise targets.
Under the agreement, Germany will aim to cut the carbon dioxide emissions by industry and power producers to 503 million tons by the year 2007 and to 495 million tons by five years later.
The deal comes just ahead of the 31 March deadline for Berlin to report to the EU its carbon emissions targets in order to pave the way for carbon emissions trading starting 1 January 2005 in a bid to meet the Kyoto protocol on curbing greenhouse gases.
The targets set early Tuesday were far short of Trittin’s demands for reducing carbon emissions to 488 million tons by 2007 and 480 million tons by 2012.
Clement, arguing that limits which were too ambitious could hurt the economy and cause job losses, had wanted much higher targets.
But both men afterwards said they could accept the agreement.
“We have found a fair compromise,” Trittin said, while Clement called it “reasonable”. Both Clement and Trittin said they still wanted Germany to be able to meet its pledge to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 21 percent by the year 2012, from 1990 levels.
Clement said the EU Commission must now see to it that all the other member states meet their emissions targets, or otherwise German industry’s competitiveness could not be guaranteed.
A sign of how crucial the issue has been for the overall welfare of the SPD-Greens coalition was the fact that Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer of the Greens also took part in the session in the chancellery, along with chancellery office minister of state Frank- Walter Steinmeier.
In an immediate reaction, the environmental group Greenpeace in Hamburg criticised the compromise deal. The group’s energy policy expert Sven Teske said the agreement “has nothing more in common” with Greens’ policies.
“With this compromise, Red-Green (SPD-Greens coalition) has bowed out from climate protection,” Teske said. Clement, by rigidly defending industry’s interests, had cast a “dark taint on the credibility of German climate policy”, the Greenpeace expert charged.
Subject: German news