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06/12/2016

Germany heads to COP22 without a plan

Climate & Environment

Germany heads to COP22 without a plan

Barbara Hendricks was dealt a blow last night, when Germany's blueprint for implementing the Paris Agreement was blocked.

[UNclimatechange/Flickr]

German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks will have to travel to Marrakesh without a climate plan to present to the COP22 summit, after Economic Affairs Minister Sigmar Gabriel blocked it last night (8 November). EurActiv’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.

Environment Minister Hendricks (SPD) nearly pulled off her strategy. Ten days ago she cranked up the political pressure and hoped that the country’s 2050 Climate Protection plan would be adopted before the end of the Moroccan conference. But that option is no longer on the cards.

German news agency dpa reported late on Tuesday that the German government had unexpectedly failed to agree on the plan and ARD-Tagesschau claimed that the issue of lignite had emerged as the main sticking point.

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Furthermore, dpa and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that the main obstacle was Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who based his concerns on criticism levied by Germany’s businesses and trade unions, which took issue with the far-reaching proposals put forward by the draft plan.

The plan was expected to be passed and subsequently adopted today (9 November) after all of Germany’s ministries backed the deal. German media reported that Gabriel vetoed the plan after discussions with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

As a result, Hendricks will have to travel to Marrakesh and face the embarrassing prospect of attending the summit without a blueprint on how to implement the goals agreed last year in Paris.

On Tuesday, it looked for all the world that after months of bickering all the parties had reached a compromise. Germany was looking to come up with a plan that would allow it to become a zero-carbon economy by the mid-century.

The version presented was still below the expectations of the Environment Ministry (BMUB), after Hendricks had compromised on a 60% reduction goal on emissions compared with 1990 levels: it was watered down to 50%. In existing buildings, only a third of emissions ended up being the target, down from 70%.

In the transport sector, the initial 45% goal was eventually diluted to just 25%. But, regardless, the agreement and all the goals contained were in ended up in the rubbish bin.

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President of industry association BDI Ulrich Grillo supported the government not adopting the plan: “The criticism of the plan is massive, well-founded and has been an issue for a year.”

NGO Germanwatch, the Association of Environmental Management (BAUM) and the Two Degrees Foundation on Monday (6 November) published an appeal for an ambitious climate protection deal, so as to send a clear signal that the Paris Agreement will be implemented. Sabine Nallinger, from Two Degrees, said that the plan was needed to give ambitious companies “planning and investment security”.

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Their appeal was supported by one of the biggest energy-consumers in the country, German Telekom, Rockwool, an insulation company, and Otto Fuchs, a car trader. Cruise company Aida, economic associations and German energy agency Dena also lent their signatures to the call.

In an open letter to Angela Merkel, the climate alliance called for roadmap on phasing out coal to be drawn up and for the climate protection plan to be ambitious.

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