German Government Waters Down Climate Bill

  • Date: 07/10/19
  • Deutsche Welle

German government is preparing a law to fight climate change, but many of its elements have now been cut or scaled back, the Spiegel magazine has reported. The news comes ahead of an Extinction Rebellion rally.

Climate activists' camp in Berlin (imago images/A. Friedrichs)

Climate activists have been camping out in front of Angela Merkel’s office

The final draft of the new climate protection law, set to be adopted by Germany’s government this week, has been significantly watered down from earlier proposals, Spiegel magazine reported.

German officials have cut the goal to limit national CO2 emission by 2040, according to the Sunday report. Also, the latest version of the bill drops the pledge that Germany would reach greenhouse-gas neutrality by 2050. Instead, it only says this goal should be “pursued.”

Another change considers the national climate council, the body of experts appointed by the government. The final draft removes the demand for the council to produce a yearly evaluation report. Also, the experts would no longer be required to provide advice to ministries on adjusting their CO2 rate to keep them on track.

However, the bill keeps the goal for Germany to reduce its CO2 emissions by 2030 to a level corresponding to 55% percent of what the nation’s output was in 1990.

Conservatives opposed

The partners in Germany’s ruling coalition, Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc and the center-left SPD, debated on a new climate protection bill in March. The proposals circulated at the time envisioned a much deeper change than the law’s current iteration seen by Spiegel. Even so, climate activists and political opponents slammed the original draft as insufficient.

The conservative bloc has since pushed for the law to be scaled back, according to sources inside the ruling coalition cited by the magazine.

Several lawmakers slammed the changes after Spiegel published its report on Sunday evening. Senior SPD representative Karl Lauterbach warned against standing “on the wrong side of history.”

“If the climate protection package gets even more weakened by the conservatives, it will be just a paper tiger,” he said.

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