Merkel speaks out against more ambitious EU climate targets

German Chancellor Angela Merkel smiles during the 20th open day of the German Federal Government in Berlin, Germany, 26 August 2018. [EPA-EFE/FILIP SINGER]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke against setting more ambitious EU climate targets on Sunday (26 August) but supported the idea of a transition towards a decarbonised transport sector. 

“I think we should first stick to the goals we have already set for ourselves. I don’t think permanently setting ourselves new goals makes any sense,” Merkel told ARD public television in an interview on Sunday evening. 

Her comments carry special weight as Germany is the EU’s most powerful economy and its industry, particularly the car industry, has been among the slowest to adapt to the energy transition.

EU climate chief Miguel Arias Cañete said last month he was considering increasing from 40 to 45% the size of cuts to harmful carbon dioxide emissions that EU countries should target by 2030 in response to evidence that climate change was gathering pace.

“I’m not particularly happy about these new proposals,” Merkel said.

Cañete: EU ‘de facto’ upping carbon reduction pledge to -45%

The EU’s top energy and climate official revealed on Wednesday (20 June) that the bloc is now set to increase its emissions reduction pledge from 40% by 2030 to 45%, after EU negotiators sealed agreements on three clean energy laws in the past fortnight.

Climate change “also with us”

Commenting on the necessity to adopt effective measures in order to fight the impact of climate change, Merkel stressed that a transition towards the decarbonisation of the transport sector (Verkehrswende) is necessary. 

“We need a ‘Verkehrswende’, that is very clear,” she said, adding that new forms of mobility should be gradually introduced in order to support that transition. 

“We’re going to have a very fast phasing now of electromobility,” she continued, pointing out that she is taking into account that sales figures for e-cars have so far been developing slowly in Germany. 

The chancellor underlined her responsibility for Germany’s contribution to climate protection. The accumulation of extreme weather events and rising temperatures in the past summers has shown that climate change is taking place “also at home, and not only in remote countries in Africa or elsewhere”.

The environmental organisation Greenpeace sharply criticised Merkel’s course on climate policy. Instead of taking leadership in climate protection in Europe and supporting Germany’s coal phase-out, she now intends to block climate targets at EU level, the NGO criticised.

Merkel now admits that “she herself has become the biggest obstructor of a more ambitious EU climate policy,” Greenpeace said. “This reveals Merkel’s failure on climate policy”.

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