Germany’s ‘horror catalogue’ 2050 climate plan criticised from all sides

A schedule on phasing out coal has already been removed from the 2050 plan. [Shutterstock]

Environmental groups have criticised Germany’s divisive 2050 climate protection plan for being too lax, whereas the country’s ruling coalition think it is too stringent. EURACTIV’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.

The controversy about Germany’s 2050 climate protection plan has escalated to the next level. The environment ministry held a consultation on the issue yesterday (27 September), but the four largest environmental groups, Greenpeace, WWF, BUND and NABU, had no wish to participate, because they think the proposal is too weak.

On the flipside, strong criticism has come from the ruling coalition, alleging that the plan would spell the end for Germany as an industrial hub. The CDU’s economic committee called the plan a “horror catalogue for the industry”.

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Industry associations, like the Chemical Industry Association (VCI), complained that they have not been sufficiently consulted during the drafting of the proposal. The environment ministry countered by highlighting that 200 associations had signed up to the debate.

The CDU, CSU and SPD all agreed to come up with a climate protection plan for 2050, especially in the wake of CDU/CSU objections to the climate protection law. Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks (SPD) left the floor open to citizens and environment associations to help shape the plan.

A proposal was then created and submitted before the summer break. It was first examined by the finance ministry, where it was heavily sanitised; talk of a phase-out of coal as an energy source was removed and any timeframe for it also disappeared from the paper.

The document then went to the chancellery, where Peter Altmaier (CDU) similarly expunged schedules and reduction targets for greenhouse emissions by individual sectors, like transport and agriculture.

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The reaction from the agriculture ministry also illustrated how controversial the plan is, as it insisted on drafting its own chapter. Its minister, Christian Schmidt (CSU), insisted, among other factors, on a revised nitrogen surplus reduction target; instead of the 60 kg per hectare target tabled by the proposal, Schmidt said that only 80 kg was possible.

A similar debate has raged at the transport ministry.

Only industry association BDI found something good to say about the plan. Holger Lösch, a member of its executive board, praised the proposal for not resorting to “blanket bans” and said that it provided a “better basis for discussion”.

However, environmental groups such as Germanwatch, WWF and Greenpeace see no basis for a “decarbonisation” of the German economy, which would see Germany achieving an 80-95% reduction of greenhouse gases, a target adopted by the Bundestag.

Following the country’s raitification of the Paris Agreement last Friday (23 September), the new head of the environment advisory council (SRU), Claudia Hornberg, called for “ambitious climate policy action by the German government”.

But according to information provided by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, four CDU and CSU politicians opposed this call in a letter to Chancellery head Altmaier, in which they called for German climate policy to be harmonised with the European Union’s weaker targets.

Gitta Connemann, Michael Fuchs and Arnold Vaatz (CDU), as well as Georg Nüßlein (CSU), criticised the 2050 plan for “one-sidedly listening to government requirements rather than the market”.



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