The German coalition government is planning to withdraw from its 2020 climate change goals. Notwithstanding public protest, Federal Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) has abandoned the requirement of cutting 40 percent of CO2 emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2020.
“It’s clear that the [2020 CO2] target is no longer viable,” said the vice-chancellor according to information obtained by SPIEGEL, adding: “We cannot exit from coal power overnight.”
Experts have doubted for some time that German climate targets are being met – especially since Gabriel is defending vehemently coal-fired power generation. According to the Ministry of Environment, Germany would have to cut 62 to 100 million tonnes of CO2 every year in order to achieve its goals. Shutting down old coal power stations would only reduce CO2 emissions by 40 million tons.
In his battle with Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks (SPD) who urged the government to adhere to the climate targets laid down in the coalition agreement, Gabriel has now prevailed. In confidential conversation with the environment minister Gabriel told her that he would not tolerate further resistance to the new government line. “It doesn’t work like that,” the Labour leader said.
Within the SPD, however, criticism of Gabriel’s U-turn is getting louder. In a letter, prominent eco-experts of the Social Democratic Party, including Erhard Eppler, Volker Hauff and Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, the signatories call on SPD ministers in the coalition government not to abandon Germany’s climate targets. They demand that the national reduction target for 2020 should be safeguarded: “This national target is also important because the EU’s climate and energy targets for 2030 which were adopted at the end of October are not ambitious enough.”