Germany must push green recovery during EU Council presidency – NGOs
Clean Energy Wire
German environmental NGOs have called on the government to use its presidency of the EU Council to urge other member states to align their national stimulus packages with climate action. “My feeling is that many countries are already looking at Germany and that it has gained credibility with the better-than-expected stimulus programme proposal,” Germanwatch chairwoman Silvie Kreibiehl told the Clean Energy Wire. “Germany can move the discussion forward.” Raphael Weyland, head of the Brussels office of the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU), added that Germany could push for climate-friendly conditions attached to recovery funds and the long-term budget in general to be controlled by the European Commission. “As a net contributor, Germany has a strong voice and it can influence negotiations through agenda setting,” he said.
More generally, Germany should use its Council presidency to strengthen the Green Deal and ensure a green recovery from the coronavirus crisis. In a joint position paper published by umbrella group DNR (Deutscher Naturschutzring), NGOs such as WWF, Germanwatch and Environmental Action Germany (DUH) call on the government to push for an ambitious EU climate law that should stipulate the exit from fossil fuels by 2040 if possible to ensure climate neutrality “well before” mid-century. They also call for raising the 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target to 65 percent (currently 40%). For the Green Deal to become the “operating system of a crisis-proof EU,” it must be strengthened and in no way delayed or even weakened, says the paper. Germany should lead the upcoming negotiations on the long-term EU budget to strengthen this sustainable growth strategy, and 40 percent of the budget should be earmarked for climate action, the paper states. The NGOs say member states must “massively support” the Just Transition Fund to help coal regions phase out the fuel, and reform the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) in spring 2021 to adapt it to the expected climate target increase.
Germany is set to take over the presidency of the EU Council on 1 July. The Council represents the executive governments of member states, and the presidency rotates every six months. Before the coronavirus crisis hit, the EU and Germany were seen holding a pivotal role in driving global climate ambition in 2020. With the postponement of the UN climate conference COP26 (possibly to November 2021) and with a general focus shifted on dealing with the pandemic, climate policy could take a backseat. However, the recovery proposals by both the German government coalition and the European Commission contain several climate action elements.