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09 May 2019, 14:11
Julian Wettengel

Merkel’s partner CSU wants climate action through lower taxes

Clean Energy Wire

The Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) – part of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s alliance of centre-right parties – is sceptical regarding the introduction of a new CO₂ tax. The party is calling instead for a reduction in existing energy taxes, such as the electricity tax, to steer Germany towards a low-carbon future. “We as CSU are not prepared to introduce a form of CO₂ pricing which puts an additional burden on citizens,” said Georg Nüßlein, deputy head of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, at a press briefing in Berlin. Nüßlein said the CSU would prefer a European solution, such as expanding the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), as its “instrument of choice." However, should a national solution be necessary, “I propose to check all environment and energy taxes for their relevance to CO₂, and reduce taxes where needed,” said Nüßlein. “For the Union [CDU/CSU alliance], ecologic tax reform means tax reduction reform.” Nüßlein said a resulting economic stimulus and innovation drive would finance part of such a reform. But climate action also “has to play a different role in federal budget planning in the coming years,” Nüßlein said. “Apart from the energy and climate fund, the current budget positions do not do justice to the issue.”

Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance is struggling to find a common position on CO₂ pricing, especially in the transport and buildings sectors. After shying away from the debate for a long time, the governing parties and Chancellor Angela Merkel herself have recently announced a willingness to look into CO2 pricing as way to reach Germany’s 2030 climate targets. The concrete concept, however – whether it be a new CO₂ tax or a cap and trade system – is heavily disputed.

Nüßlein flat out rejected the draft climate action law presented by Social Democratic environment minister Svenja Schulze earlier this year. Instead of introducing “one big climate law”, the Conservative said, the individual climate challenges should be dealt with “step by step:” first the coal exit legislation, then a package for the buildings sector. 

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