03 May 2019, 13:17
Julian Wettengel

Germans see great need for climate action, oppose CO₂ tax – survey


A large majority of Germans (81%) see a great need for action to protect the climate and say that climate change cannot be stopped without restrictions on people’s lives, according to a representative survey conducted by pollster infratest dimap and commissioned by public broadcaster ARD. However, 62 percent of respondents said they are against the introduction of a CO₂ tax.

The German government is currently debating the introduction of some form of CO₂ price to help reach climate targets – especially for the transport and buildings sectors – but has only just begun discussing possible designs. There are many ways a price on carbon could be implemented, and different stakeholders favour different models, such as a cap-and-trade approach or a carbon tax, as mentioned in the survey. German politicians have suggested adjusting other energy taxes and levies, or paying back the CO₂ tax revenues to citizens, to help low-income households cope with the transition. Infratest dimap’s full question reads: “The introduction of a CO₂ tax is discussed in the climate action debate. There could be an additional levy on climate-harmful CO₂ to reduce its emissions. Citizens could be relieved elsewhere. Are you – in principle – for or against the introduction of a CO₂ tax?” A survey conducted by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in February 2019 had already shown that Germans remain strongly in favour of the energy transition, but want fairer distribution of its costs.

After shying away from the debate for a long time, the governing parties and Chancellor Angela Merkel herself have recently announced their willingness to look into CO₂ pricing as a means of reaching Germany’s 2030 climate targets. Several ministries have commissioned studies to define the design of such a scheme. Last week, politicians started to pitch ideas for the design of CO₂ pricing in Germany and the government’s climate cabinet is to discuss the subject in July.

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