German coal commission to contribute to closing 2020 climate gap – minister
Germany’s new commission to define a path and an end-date for an exit from coal-fired power generation should also help close the gap in emission reductions to reach the country’s 2020 climate goal, environment minister Svenja Schulze told the utility association BDEW’s annual conference in Berlin. The Social Democrat warned that without further action the gap could actually be even larger than the 8 percentage points in the government’s recent climate protection report. If the economy continues booming and the transport sector keeps failing to reduce emissions at all, the country may achieve even less than the 32 percent greenhouse gas reduction compared to 1990 levels, she said.
However, Schulze stressed that the 2020 goal of 40 percent reduction was not the main focus of the commission. The “historic” process of defining an exit path and an end-date in an economically and socially acceptable way was aiming to meet the 2030 goals. Schulze also pointed out that more climate action was needed in the sectors like transport and buildings that are not part of the European emission trading system, because Germany would have to buy emission rights if it failed to meet the binding EU 2020 targets. However, Schulze rejected driving bans in cities or general speed limits as a solution to environmental problems, calling on the German car industry to finally produce the cleaner cars people want. Limits to entering cities with a car like in other European countries cannot be the “German way”, she said.
Schulze reiterated her support for a carbon price, though she added that such a change in the system of taxes and fees had to be well-prepared in order to avoid unwanted social consequences. The CEO of utility E.ON, Johannes Teyssen, warned against burdening the coal commission with too much short-term expectations and called for a long-term solution in the form of a carbon price.