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Minister contradicts Merkel over climate plan

May 13, 2019

Germany's Social Democrat (SPD) environment minister says the government should sign up to France's ambitious plan to reduce EU carbon emissions. Chancellor Angela Merkel had rejected Germany's participation on Friday.

German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze addresses a news conference at the opening of the 10th Petersberger Klimadialog climate conference in Berlin on May 13, 2019.
Image: Getty Images/AFP/T. Schwarz

Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said on Monday that Germany should join a European climate initiative led by French President Emmanuel Macron, days after Chancellor Angela Merkel dismissed Germany's participation.

"I think it would make a lot of sense to stand by France's side," the Social Democrat (SPD) minister said in a speech at a meeting of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin.

Merkel, a member of the conservative CDU/CSU alliance, refused to commit to Macron's call to make the bloc carbon-neutral by 2050 during a meeting of EU leaders on Friday.

Read more: Emmanuel Macron, Europe's climate hero?

The German government currently plans to reduce net CO2 emissions by 80% to 95% by 2050, in comparison to 1990 levels.

"Global emissions are still on the rise and every effort must be made to reverse this trend," Schulze said.

More than 30 environment ministers from around the world are attending the Petersberg meeting to discuss how to implement the 2015 Paris climate agreement and preparations for a United Nations climate conference in Chile in December.

Schulze said the UN-backed Paris deal foresaw signatories achieving Macron's goal of carbon-neutrality by mid-century.

"For me, 2050 is the middle of the century," she said.

Read more: Climate change: World way off track on Paris accord goals

The minister also said Germany needed to tax carbon emissions in a way that normal citizens would accept. She praised a Swiss-style system whereby the government gives payouts from the tax revenue it receives.

The chancellor is expected to give a speech to the Petersberg meeting on Tuesday. Merkel and her senior ministers, including Schulze, are scheduled to discuss a climate protection bill at the end of May.

Read more: Sweden to end net carbon emissions by 2045

Cap and trade: The EU vs. greenhouse gases

amp/msh (AFP, dpa)

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