05 Aug 2020, 14:14
Benjamin Wehrmann

Germany's econ min admits climate policy mistakes, says decarbonisation must be made "irreversible"

dpa / Weser Kurier

The German government has "made mistakes and acted too late" regarding climate action in the past few years but is committed to pull through with its aim to reach a zero-carbon economy by the middle of the century, economy minister Peter Altmaier says in an article by news agency dpa carried in the Weser Kurier. The minister said Germany had an "enormous" backlog regarding climate action, stressing that in “the coming months we have to make sure that the path towards CO2 neutrality becomes irreversible". Policies like Germany's coal phase-out, the European Green Deal and the carbon pricing scheme for heating and transport becoming effective in 2021 prove that the government is taking climate action seriously and wants it to succeed, Altmaier added. “For more than 15 years, efforts have been made to achieve climate protection worldwide through joint action by all important countries, ” Altmaier said, noting that “a lot of time” was lost in the process without any groundbreaking results. Europe had therefore decided to surge ahead and seek to completely eliminate fossil fuels as an energy sourcem, he argued. Altmaier added that climate neutral steel production, as the "prime example of an energy intensive industry", would be a touchstone when it came to reconciling climate action and industrial production. The EU needs to introduce a mechanism in line with international trade rules that ensures steel production with green hydrogen is not outcompeted by cheaper production with fossil fuels, he argued.

Following a surge of civil society protests for more ambitious climate policies, Germany last year enacted its Climate Action Programme 2030 that aims to put the country's emission reductions on track to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement and includes, amongst other things, the introduction of a carbon price and a rapid expansion of electric mobility. The country currently holds the EU Council's rotating presidency until the end of the year and has said it will make a more coherent and effective European climate policy one of the central goals of its six-month term.

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