Angela Merkel, defense minister to fly to US on two planes | News | DW | 22.09.2019
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Angela Merkel, defense minister to fly to US on two planes

The German chancellor and the defense minister will fly concurrently to the east coast of the US on separate jets. Merkel is attending the UN climate summit days after announcing a major drive to cut emissions.

Two days after the German government announced a €54 billion ($61 billion) package of measures to tackle climate change, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer are to fly to the United States in two separate planes, the Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday.

Two Luftwaffe aircraft will transport the two politicians almost simultaneously to the east coast of the US, the paper said.

Read more: Is Germany too stingy to fund the fight against climate change?

Merkel is due in New York at the United Nations climate summit on Monday, where she is expected to confirm that Germany is committed to phasing out coal and will help to save the rainforests abroad. On Tuesday, she will participate in the UN General Assembly's general debate, attended by world leaders.

Kramp-Karrenbauer, who has been tipped as Merkel's possible successor, will meet her US counterpart, Mark Esper, in Washington and return to Germany on Monday.

Read more: When will flying turn green?

Large carbon footprint

Bild criticized the decision to take two planes as flying is harmful to the environment. The paper reported that the pair were initially due to travel on one Airbus A340 that would first land in New York before continuing to the US capital.

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How to make flying more environmentally friendly

A Defense Ministry spokesman told Bild: "In the course of planning this trip, we have made every effort to optimize the use of the aircraft."

Bild reported that Kramp-Karrenbauer had booked a ticket to return to Germany on a passenger flight, but the Defense Ministry was informed by the Chancellery that the defense minister would have to organize other transportation to the US as well. Without providing additional details, the ministry said flight plans were decided based on the official's schedule, destination, flight length and the size of the accompanying delegation.

Both agreed to new climate protection package

On Friday, Merkel and Kramp-Karrenbauer announced a slew of measures aimed at halving carbon emissions in Europe's largest economy by 2030.

As well as raising gas (petrol) and diesel prices, ministers committed to increasing public subsidies for electric cars and offering cheaper rail travel.

Read more: Electric cars: Low earners may never get to drive one

A higher tax on short-haul flights will be levied and the installation of oil-fired heating systems in buildings will be banned.

Germany, meanwhile, aims to close down all its coal-powered plants by 2038 at the latest. Their current production capacity of 42.5 gigawatts should be reduced to 17 gigawatts by 2030, the government said.

mm/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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