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27 Nov 2018, 15:07
Sven Egenter

Protests in France highlight why a CO2 price must be socially fair - German minister

Germany will ultimately need a price on greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors that does not overburden citizens with lower incomes in order to complete its energy transition, the country’s environment minister, Svenja Schulze, said during the second day of the annual conference of the German Energy Agency dena. “The debate is not over, it has just started,” she said to applause from the audience of energy experts in reference to the lukewarm reception her recent initiatives have received from her government colleagues. “It’s crazy to finance the Energiewende only via the power prices,” she said. However, a scheme that also covers heating and transport fuels must be compliant with the complex German tax code. In addition, such a scheme must include relief for lower income households, Social Democrat Schulze said. “You can see where you end up when you do not do that. The developments in France are not good,” she said in reference to the protests against the hike in fuel taxes there. Schulze’s cabinet colleague, energy and economy minister Peter Altmaier (CDU), voiced a similar opinion in a speech he delivered during the first day of the conference. "The reaction to increased petrol and heating oil prices in France has taken away a bit of our courage,” Altmaier said. The conservative politician also commented on Schulze’s previous attempts to drive the carbon price debate that had led to a rebuff from her own party colleague in the finance ministry and to negative headlines in the tabloid press. Her call had been “a bold advance,” Altmaier said. But a lack of coordination eventually prompted finance minister Olaf Scholz to shoot the plan down, he added. “Communicating early can spare us a lot of disappointment.” Both ministers stressed that Germany must identify effective measures to cut emissions before setting more ambitious goals. “There will be no new targets during my term unless we can present a very clear roadmap and monitoring mechanism for achieving it,” Altmaier said. The energy minister said he did not want to play down the fact that Germany is going to miss its 2020 climate target, but stressed that coming up with new initiatives in climate policy that are not thought through would not help.

See the CLEW article German environment minister plans CO2 price concept to boost climate action for background.

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