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Stringency Melting Away

DW staff (sms)
August 22, 2007

Environmental protection groups accused the German government of only paying lip service to global warming and not implementing measures strong enough to meet its own climate protection goals.

An ice sculpture of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate
Some groups accused Berlin of melting in the face of opposition from industry groupsImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

Just days before German cabinet members meet to discuss the government's goals for the coming two years on Thursday and Friday, environmental protection groups criticized the climate plan the ministers will use as a basis for their discussions.

The government watered down its climate goals to protect companies from added costs, according to a statement Wednesday from the Climate Alliance, which represents over 60 German environmental protection groups.

The umbrella organization said the transportation and economics ministries were particularly at fault for slowing German greenhouse gas reductions by not requiring companies to lower their emissions.

Groups want clear-cut plan

Chancellor Merkel during a visit to Greenland
The groups questioned whether Merkel will be known for helping the environmentImage: AP

The World Wildlife Fund said the government would "fail terrifically" if it did not set strict limits for industrial greenhouse gas emissions, according to Regine Günther, head of WWF Germany's climate section.

"The plan lacks verifiable, quantifiable goals for the individual measures," she said Tuesday in a statement.

The "abundance of announcements without a concrete timetable" needed to be supplemented with clear targets, Gerhard Timm, director of Friends of the Earth Germany, said Tuesday in a statement.

"Our main criticism is that the package of measures is simply not enough," Timm added. "We hope the government is going to improve it."

Proposals fall short of goals

Cows graze in front of a coal-fired power plant
Plans to build more than 20 new coal-fired power plants also came under fireImage: AP

A spokesman for the environment ministry said the government's plan set some of the world's most ambitious climate protection goals.

"Before the professional bean counters talk about everything that is not in the packet, I can only suggest they read everything that is in it," the spokesman told the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung on Tuesday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has set a goal of reducing Germany's greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2020, when compared to 1990. Proposals to reach this goal include extending support for more efficient energy use in homes, better automobile fuel consumption and increasing electricity production from renewable sources to between 25 percent and 30 percent by 2020.

A study commissioned by Greenpeace, however, said suggested measures for cutting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions would lead to a drop of 215 tons of CO2 by 2020, falling short of the government's goal of 260 millon tons.

"Anyone who is still trying to curb the measures, as some industrial sectors are doing, hasn't understood how serious the situation is and what kinds of big steps are really necessary," Greenpeace Germany climate expert Karsten Smid said in a statement. "The climate can't take any more compromises."

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