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13 May 2019, 14:12
Julian Wettengel

CO₂ price must not put additional burden on citizens –Social Democrat leader

A CO₂ price can be a useful building block of a package of climate action measures in Germany provided that it does not put an additional burden on citizens, said Social Democratic Party (SPD) head Andrea Nahles at an expert conference on climate and energy organised by the SPD’s parliamentary group in the Bundestag. “A CO₂ price is socially fair if it returns the revenues to the citizens and does not put an additional burden on certain groups, such as commuters and tenants,” said Nahles. The “basic approach” must be not to raise taxes but to create fair incentives. Nahles called 2019 a decisive year for climate action. She said her coalition partner, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance, “sometimes lacks the necessary seriousness” when it comes to climate action. “AKK [CDU party head Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer] stifles the CO₂ price debate before it begins. [Transport minister Andreas] Scheuer deals with climate policy as if it was a computer game: somehow dodge the obstacles.” Nahles also called for a fundamental reform of Germany’s system of energy levies to make renewable power cheaper than fossil energy. “This is a huge task,” said Nahles.

Some SPD members have said that climate policy could become a make-or-break issue for the entire government coalition in autumn 2019. Due to heavy resistance from within the party to joining a coalition with the conservative CDU/CSU alliance after Germany's last general elections in 2017, the SPD leaders promised to hold a "midterm review" and decide whether to continue with the coalition. No official date or form has yet been set for the review, but it is likely to be held two years after the election, in autumn 2019. The CDU also intends to review the coalition agreement.

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