German govt must agree emissions targets: SPD minister
Germany’s environment minister, Svenja Schulze, says the governing coalition should fall if it cannot agree on measures to reduce emissions.
The Social Democrat (SPD) minister told the Tagesspiegel newspaper: “The coalition cannot continue when it is not prepared to clarify without hesitation how Germany will achieve its climate goals by 2030.”
The SPD works in coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union.
Schulze last month said she wanted to impose a ban on plastic shopping bags after voluntary agreements with retailers had failed to have significant enough results.
The European Union is due to outlaw certain single-use plastic products such as straws, forks and knives from 2021, with several exemptions for transition times.
An agreement in 2016 has reduced plastic bag consumption, with many customers now paying for shopping bags.
The environment ministry said there has been a 64-per-cent decline in plastic bag use since 2015.
Plastic bags account for 1 per cent of packaged plastic consumption. The bill would not include thin plastic bags used for fruit and vegetables, which Schulze said could lead to even more waste.
She has demanded national unity on environmental issues.
“If we, as a nation of industry, cannot demonstrate how to do it, we cannot expect that other countries will join. It is about the credibility of this government,” she said.
On September 20, Germany’s “climate cabinet” is due to propose a series of measures to minimise global warming.
Under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, Germany agreed to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. A UN summit will be held on September 23 in New York ahead of the December conference in Chile.
Germany is consistently in the top 10 largest emissions producers.
Schulze said Berlin’s representatives could not go to New York without a plan to reduce emissions. “There are still two weeks of really hard work,” the minister in the centre-left party said.
“For this government and future ones, we need a mechanism to annually review Germany’s progress on reducing greenhouse gases,” she added.
She has proposed a carbon tax on fuel and heating oil.
“A carbon dioxide price cannot be too high in the beginning and it should continually but not too rapidly increase,” Schulze argued. “We need to ensure that normal wage-earners and commuters from the countryside can still afford their cars.”
She added: “I am not stuck on a model. It is crucial that in the end a fair and socially balanced price for carbon dioxide is arrived at.”
Europa-Park. Germany is investing heavily in renewable energy. Picture credit: Eurasia Times