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News Extra: Germany to cut carbon emissions up to 95% by 2050

01 December 2016

The German government has reached agreement on a climate change action plan which involves reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 95% by 2050, a spokesman said on November 11. The plan requires German industry to reduce its CO2 emissions by a fifth by 2030 and the energy sector to reduce emissions by almost a half.

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Stock image

The Government spokesman told reporters the plan would be reviewed in 2018 to assess its impact on jobs and society. The sector targets in particular will be subject to a comprehensive impact assessment.

Acceptance of the plan came just before the Marrakech climate change conference, where there was pressure on Germany to show global leadership after the victory of climate sceptic Donald Trump in the US elections.

Germany's environment minister Barbara Hendricks first presented a list of ambitious CO2 reduction targets for various economic sectors in 2015, but proposals became bogged down by lack of support from key ministers, including Deputy Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who is also Economy and Energy Minister.

Under pressure from energy sector unions, the ministers expressed concerns that a phase-out of brown coal, which causes the highest CO2 emissions per ton when burned, could lead to large-scale job losses in affected regions.

According to Reuters, the final plan contains lower reduction targets for power plants than proposed in earlier drafts. A call to introduce a minimum price for pollution certificates in the European Union's carbon trading scheme was also reportedly scrapped.

Gabriel, who is also Germany's economic minister, said the agreed plan represented "a very good and well-balanced solution". He underlined the importance of combining the fight against climate change with the protection of jobs and said he expects brown coal to remain in use through 2040.

The president of the Association of German Industry (BDI) criticised the plan : "In order for [German] climate policy to set the standard around the world, it has to be manageable for businesses and allow them to remain competitive," Ulrich Grillo said. "That's why we reject arbitrary and tonne-high reduction targets for individual sectors."

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