08 Jul 2019, 13:32
Julian Wettengel

Conservatives criticise environment minister’s CO₂ price proposal

Bild am Sonntag / Handelsblatt / ZDF / Clean Energy Wire

Conservative politicians have criticised coalition partner environment minister Svenja Schulze’s (SPD) call for raising taxes on transport and heating fuels. German economy minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) said the proposal would do little to protect the climate “because it burdens many without sustainably reducing CO₂ emissions,” Altmaier told Bild am Sonntag. He said it is important to save jobs and ensure that rural regions are not put at a disadvantage. In a separate article in the Handelsblatt, Carsten Linnemann – head of MIT, the economic association of the CDU/CSU alliance – said a CO₂ tax is an instrument which is neither sufficiently target-oriented nor socially acceptable. In an interview with public broadcaster ZDF, CDU party head Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said it is “difficult to first start by raising taxes,” and called instead for a reform of the existing energy taxes and levies.
The Fridays for Future (FfF) student climate movement welcomed that the expert assessments presented by Schulze take into account the climate crisis’ follow-up costs. “We’ve called for the introduction of a CO₂ tax of 180 euros per tonne of CO₂ since April,” said FfF member Sebastian Grieme in a press release. The reports now showed that a CO₂ tax at such levels is feasible, effective and can be designed in a socially fair way, he said. “The federal government now has absolutely no excuse to implement [the CO₂ tax] as fast as possible.”

After shying away from the debate for a long time, the governing CDU/CSU alliance and Merkel herself have recently announced their willingness to look into CO2 pricing as a way to reach Germany’s 2030 climate targets. The concrete concept, however – whether it be a new CO₂ tax or a cap and trade system – is heavily disputed. Merkel herself floated the idea of “a coalition of the willing” among European Union countries and announced that the government will make key decisions on climate action in September.

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