23 Apr 2019, 13:33
Julian Wettengel

German politicians pitch design ideas for CO₂ price

Spiegel / Tagesspiegel Background / NOZ

The debate over a price on CO₂ emissions gathered pace over the Easter break, after Chancellor Angela Merkel said her new “climate cabinet” would discuss the idea over the coming months.
Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) – who has been calling for a debate over CO₂ pricing almost since she took office over a year agotold weekly news magazine Spiegel she will work out a proposal by summer that will not burden low-income households. “We want to reimburse the people with the money from CO₂ revenues, taking the burden off medium and low-income households,” Schulze said. “Those with a higher income, or big cars or houses will carry a greater burden because they can afford it.” The minister did not suggest a definite price, but mentioned 20 euros per tonne of CO₂, as proposed by experts, as a first step.
In a guest commentary for Tagesspiegel Background, former Economy and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) said 20 euros would be a “low-threshold opening offer” but for Germany to reach its 2030 climate targets, it would need to rise to 200 euros per tonne. He argues that a CO₂ tax would have “significant advantages compared to emissions trading”. Introducing a tax would be much faster than reforming the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), Gabriel writes. He says the revenue from such a tax should be paid out to citizens per capita, “the same amount for everyone” meaning that those on lower incomes who emit less CO2 receive back a higher proportion of the tax they pay or even more. Companies covered by the ETS would be exempt from the tax, Gabriel writes.
Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), president of the German parliament and former finance minister, told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung it would be better to reach an agreement at a European level. “Making [CO₂] allowances more expansive or introducing a tax, is the same general idea and should be examined by the responsible politicians,” Schäuble said. He called for decisions on climate action to be made quickly, saying “we cannot afford ten more years of discussions.”

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