Merkel's 2050 EU carbon neutrality bid complicates Germany's climate policy – opinion
By supporting the call for climate neutrality in the EU by 2050, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has practically also tightened national climate goals, writes Daniel Wetzel in an opinion piece in Die Welt. “What she calls for at the EU level, she also has to deliver in her own country,” writes Wetzel. He says the German government has always set ambitious goals but failed to introduce the policy measures needed to reach them. This could happen again this time around as the affected ministries lack the will to find consensus in Merkel’s climate cabinet, which she has set up to agree on measures to reach existing 2030 climate goals, Wetzel adds. “The fact that the chancellor has raised the bar now in the midst of the process won’t make finding an agreement any easier.”
After having long resisted calls by a group of European neighbours, including France, to sign on to a pledge to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century, Germany is now on board. Germany’s current aim is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by "80 to 95 percent" by 2050. Merkel said in 2017, however, that Germany must define an exact target during the current legislative period. The difference between an 80 percent and a 95 percent scenario is significant. In a 2018 study, the German industry and trade group BDI said that targeting the upper end is only realistic if other industrialised countries make comparable efforts. It was only in May of this year that Merkel signalled a turnabout. At the Petersberg Climate Dialogue she said her recently formed “climate cabinet” would debate how Germany could reach climate neutrality by mid-century. Should her ministers find a “sound” way to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, Germany would be in a position to officially support the pledge, Merkel said.