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14 Aug 2019, 11:54
Julian Wettengel

Merkel: emissions trading has edge over carbon tax in the long run

Clean Energy Wire

A system to trade CO₂ emission allowances, rather than a carbon tax, is the better way to steer Germany towards climate neutrality in the long run, Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a town hall meeting in the northern city of Stralsund organised by regional newspaper Ostsee-Zeitung. "In the beginning, the effect is similar, but the precision in reaching the target is better with allowances", as the exact amount available could be stipulated at any given moment, Merkel said. In the meeting, which touched on a myriad of topics from the military to fishery, Merkel also rejected the argument that as Germany is only responsible for about 2 percent of global emissions it hardly mattered what the country does to avoid emissions. "That's not the right way of looking at it. We have the technological possibilities, the innovations. If we do not act responsibly now, how can we expect countries with a much lower standard of living to do so? We must be pioneers," she said. While climate change could not be stopped by Germany alone, the country had to set a good example and help others do it. Merkel commended young climate activist Greta Thunberg, who is embarking on a sail boat journey from Europe to North America to attend the UN Climate Action Summit on 23 September. "She is an exceptional girl who has got many things moving and encouraged many to get involved […]. She managed to get civil society moving at a scale that others have not managed to do on their own before," the chancellor added.

After shying away from the debate for a long time, the German government looks set to decide on a carbon pricing system for sectors not covered by the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) as a climate action instrument. While Merkel’s coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), has said it prefers a carbon tax – as it could be introduced faster – the majority in the chancellor’s CDU/CSU alliance appears to favour emissions trading. The climate cabinet has promised major climate policy decisions for a meeting on 20 September.

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