08 Jul 2019, 13:26
Freja Eriksen

German “solo attempt” on CO₂ pricing should be cancelled – opinion

Augsburger Allgemeine / FAZ / General Anzeiger

Commentators are debating the effect of increasing existing taxes on petrol, diesel, heating oil and natural gas as proposed by federal environment minister Svenja Schulze to help Germany reach its climate targets. “The German solo attempt should be cancelled,” writes journalist Christian Grimm in the Augsburger Allgemeine, suggesting that the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) should instead be extended to include transport and heating. This would help avoid the German economy being hit by competitive disadvantages, writes Grimm. Contrary to minister Schulze, he views chances for an EU solution to be “more favourable than ever.” Grimm also argues that a tax increase is not sure to have any great effect on CO2 emissions.
In a similar vein, Heike Göbel points to a Europe-wide solution as the only possible way “to precisely determine the total amount of CO2 emissions permitted” in an opinion piece in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
Birgit Marshall in the General Anzeiger, however, comments that “the CO2 tax would be easier to implement and more effective.” Relying on the EU ETS could lead the price of CO2 to rise “too little and too late.” Marshall suggests that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance, which is struggling to find a common position on CO₂ pricing – especially in the transport and buildings sectors – should “overcome its fear of the voters and boldly decide to introduce the CO2 tax as early as 2020.” This decision should be supplemented with extensive investments in public transport from both the federal and the state governments “so that commuters willing to change trains can really make the change,” argues Marshall. 

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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