Angela Merkel : Chancellor of Climate ?
In front of massive strikes against global warming for many weeks, the German Government thought about a great and unpublished bill that could satisfy a big part of the country.Various steps have been decided about different aspects of Germans way of life. It is an intelligent mix of using market principles as well as raising taxes. The aim is to encourage people to consume better and think about what they could do limit their ecological footprint. The Chancellor hopes that this will work with ambitious measures. But the plan was not unanimously greeted. Merkel’s opponents call for more realistic steps.
Photo: Kay Nietfeld/dpa; focus.de
100 billion euros to calm the street down
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has presented on September 20 a great climate plan of 100 billion euros until 2030. Among those 100 billion, 54 will be spent until 2023.
Merkel was under pressure of the street and of the public opinion, especially by the younger generation, which has a great fear and feels very concerned about global warming. More than one million people went on strike in the whole country, whose more than one quarter in the capital city Berlin and 100,000 in Hamburg. Moreover, the German Green Party is very popular and reached a very good score on the European elections with the 2nd place and 20% of the votes. Eventually, the same date was chosen for the unveiling of this great plan. It contains mainly objectives about reducing carbon emissions.
The whole Government worked together all the summer long on the plan and was appealed to make an offer for the final bill. This plan is the result of very tough negotiations between the Christian-Democrats (center-right, conservative) and the Social-Democratic Party (center-left, progressive), that compose the Coalition Government. A compromise has been finally found between applying the principle of polluter should pay and using market instruments.
Many sectors among the most polluting will be put to use : energy, building trade, agriculture, industries and transports.
The following measures has been acted :
- The extension of the sphere of the emissions certificates to the transports and the real estate area
- Increasing taxes on plane tickets : 74% on short and medium hauls and 41% on long hauls
- Decreasing of the value added tax on train tickets for journeys over 50 kms
- A great investment plan for rail restoration co-financed by the State and the national train company Deutsche Bahn that will cost nearly 86 Million euros
- Some subsidies for two different projects :
- Buying an electric car : the objective is to have 7 to 10 million electric cars by 2030. The government also wants to develop charge pores for electric cars
- Reinforcing energy efficiency by forbidding commercialization of fossil fuels boiler that work with fossil fuels like oil or gas. At the same time, a subsidy will be granted to help households changing their old boiler for a climate-friendly boiler especially in the buildings where it is possible (indeed households that use fossil fuel boiler are responsible of 10% of greenhouse gas emissions in Germany)
- Reboosting wind energy with a financial help from the Federal State directly to the Regions for the wind turbines exploitation.
However, the German government gave up the idea to increase the level of a car fuel tax. In fact, this kind of step is very unpopular.
A plan that is not unanimously approved
Indeed, Merkel is facing many criticisms because of her plan. Those criticisms are coming from the political opponents but also from the society.
The Chancellor is many times seen as a leader who is not efficient when it comes to climate issues and is unable to take drastic decisions to protect the biodiversity and the environment.
According to the German president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, « If there is no credible alternative, businesses won’t be able to avoid the price of carbon ».
Some demonstrators qualified this plan as a « scandal », like Luisa Neubauer, the German spokesperson for the movement FridaysforFuture. She is worried about the possible failure of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
Anna-Lenna Baerbock, copresident of the German Green party, said the plan is « too slow, lax and not binding ».
It must be admitted that Angela Merkel did not vote many laws to reduce Germany’s carbon emissions, in spite of the nickname « the climate chancellor ». The country will not reach its objective to cut down its greenhouse gas by 40% in 2020 compared to 1990 but maintains the objective to cut it down by 55% by 2030. This means that many efforts have to be made on climate policy, putting on one side chancellor’s « fine words » on climate energy. The nuclear exit on 2022 and coal exit on 2038 are considered as the only great measures taken by Merkel’s government.