Germany’s Merkel faces decisive week on climate protection

Merkel’s government has said for months that it will unveil a package of measures on Friday to ensure that Germany cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030. (File/AFP)
Updated 14 September 2019

Germany’s Merkel faces decisive week on climate protection

  • Germany is set to miss its own emissions goals for 2020
  • The Social Democrats have advocated raising taxes on energy sources such as gasoline and heating oil

BERLIN: Germany faces a decisive week in its efforts to combat climate change, with Chancellor Angela Merkel pledging Saturday that Europe’s biggest economy will find good solutions but her governing coalition still haggling over a long-promised policy package.

Merkel’s government has said for months that it will unveil a package of measures on Friday to ensure that Germany cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030 compared with 1990. It is under pressure to deliver a result that offers convincing measures without overly burdening the economy and voters, but parties in the coalition have argued about how to do so.

The package is a test of credibility both for the fractious coalition of Merkel’s center-right Union bloc and the center-left Social Democrats and for the chancellor herself. It offers her the chance to reclaim the mantle of “climate chancellor,” a title that was often used in her early days in office but has faded over the years, in her final term as German leader.

In her weekly video message, Merkel said that “climate protection is a challenge for humanity” and that “we need a real feat” to deal with it.
“It is not enough for us to act internationally,” she said. “Of course we must do that too, but we must do our homework here, at home ... unfortunately, we are not yet as good as we should be.”

Germany is set to miss its own emissions goals for 2020. Merkel said that “we want to give carbon dioxide a price” because “when something has a price, people have an incentive to reduce CO2 emissions.”

She stressed that the government doesn’t want to take in more money overall, but how exactly the pricing should work has been a bone of contention.

The Social Democrats have advocated raising taxes on energy sources such as gasoline and heating oil, while conservatives prefer an emissions certificate trading system that energy firms would have to participate in. Other proposals have included a reduction of value-added tax on train tickets and raising taxes on domestic flights.

Coalition leaders met for over five hours on Friday night and agreed to meet again Thursday to thrash out final details.

“I want us to succeed in making the climate protection law a resounding success and not to get lost in little things and individual measures,” the Social Democrats’ general secretary, Lars Klingbeil, told news agency dpa.

Merkel said she is confident of finding satisfactory solutions. “I am absolutely certain that Germany can find its way to good climate protection,” she said.


North Korea says it won’t give Trump a summit for free

Updated 18 November 2019

North Korea says it won’t give Trump a summit for free

  • Kim Kye Gwan says Washington must discard what North Korea sees as its “hostile” policies to keep the negotiations alive

SEOUL: North Korea has responded to a tweet by US President Donald Trump that hinted at another summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying it has no interest in giving Trump further meetings to brag about unless it gets something substantial in return.

The statement on Monday by Foreign Ministry adviser Kim Kye Gwan is the latest call by North Korea for US concessions ahead of an end-of-year deadline set by Kim
Jong Un for the Trump administration to offer mutually acceptable terms for a deal to salvage nuclear diplomacy.

Kim Kye Gwan says Washington must discard what North Korea sees as its “hostile” policies to keep the negotiations alive.