25 Sep 2023, 13:36
Benjamin Wehrmann

Coalition at odds over transport sector measures in Germany's Climate Action Law reform

dpa / Frankfurter Rundschau

Climate policy experts from two of the three parties in Germany’s coalition government have voiced concerns over the government’s planned reform of the country’s Climate Action Law, arguing the draft law puts much too little checks on making the transport sector conform with emissions reduction targets. Representatives from the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Green Party have called for amending the draft so that automatic safeguard measures apply if the transport sector fails to sufficiently reduce emissions, news agency dpa reported in an article published in the newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau. “If goals are being missed, there must be an automatic mechanism that guarantees that they are being abided by,” SPD parliamentary faction deputy leader Matthias Miersch said. Green Party member Lisa Badum argued the transport sector should not be allowed to freeride on the emissions reduction efforts in other parts of the economy. The third coalition member, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), had defended the current draft law in a parliamentary debate on 22 September, arguing that specific sectoral targets would make overall emissions reduction efforts less efficient and less flexible. “The duty to introduce costly action programmes in individual sectors has not lent wings to climate action but rather put brakes on it,” FDP climate expert Olaf in der Beek said, adding that CO2 reduction could be achieved at the lowest price if regulation is not too detailed.

Germany’s Climate Action Law made the government’s climate neutrality target legally binding and introduced stricter greenhouse gas reduction targets in specific sectors, such as industry, transport or buildings. Compliance with targets is to be controlled retroactively, followed by an obligation for ministries in their sectors to present their own specific reduction measures. But the coalition has proposed a reform that is set to effectively weaken ministerial responsibility for excessive emissions and addresses reduction efforts based on prognoses for the economy as a whole. The reform still requires parliamentary approval to take effect. Climate activists and NGOs have harshly criticised the reform plans for taking pressure off the sectors most in need of initiating changes. A scientific expert commission in August said Germany looks set to miss its 2030 climate target of reducing greenhouse gases by 65 percent compared to 1990 already with the law in its current form.

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