A fight over Germany’s unilateral climate targets has broken out between Sigmar Gabriel (SPD), the German economics minister, and Barbara Hendricks (SPD), the environment minister. Hendricks wants to close coal power plants, Gabriel wants to save jobs – and he may even delay Germany’s 2020 climate target, according to information obtained by SPIEGEL.
Up to 20 coal-fired power plants are at stake if Germany’s federal government is to meet its self-imposed climate target – to reduce CO2 emissions by 2020 by 40 percent compared to 1990. But a dispute between Federal Minister of Economics and the Federal Environment Ministry has flared up regarding its schedule.
Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) seeks to avoid excessively rapid disconnection of the power plants from the grid. It would be “an illusion to believe that Germany could simultaneously phase out nuclear power and coal,” he says. Gabriel may also introduce a delay of the climate action programme which will be tabled at the Cabinet meeting on December 3, according to SPIEGEL information.
Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, however, intends to stick to Germany’s unilateral target: “We want to lead the world. We will not reach the 40 percent [CO2 reduction target], if we do not take further action.” This would also include the shutdown of coal plants.
The industrial trade union IG BCE supports Gabriel’s position. Chairman Michael Vassiliadis said: “Our first priority was the phasing out of nuclear energy, and that could mean that we will miss the climate target of 40 percent less CO2 for a few years.”