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Germany: Ministers propose more ambitious climate goals

After the government's previous emissions targets were deemed unconstitutional by Germany's top court, two ministers have set out a more ambitious proposal.

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Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and Environment Minister Svenja Schulze laid out a new legislative proposal to make Germany climate neutral by 2045. It is to be approved by the cabinet and then passed in parliament.

The two ministers announced their plan at a last-minute press conference, a week after Germany's  Constitutional Court declared the targets set in the 2019 climate protection law were unconstitutional.

The lawmakers, both with the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), are hoping for the proposal to be ratified by the German Cabinet next week after getting approval from their coalition partners, Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.

What does the new climate law proposal include?

  • Slash emissions by 65% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels
  • Reach 88% reduction in emissions by 2040
  • Achieve climate neutrality by 2045, five years earlier than the previous target

The environment minister said on Wednesday that Germany's emission levels were already 40% lower than they were in 1990, meaning that the 2030 targets would require a reduction in emissions of a further 25 percentage points.

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What did lawmakers say about the new proposal?

Scholz, who is also vice chancellor, "will be in the Cabinet next week with an ambitious yet achievable climate law."

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said after the announcement that "those are the common goals."

The environment minister said that the new targets would not postpone the burden of cutting emissions.

"That is a fair offer for the younger generations in that we are not leaving the biggest burden for the future," Schulze said.

Scholz also highlighted the importance of renewable energy capacity, saying: "The entire future economic performance of the national economy depends on the availability of more renewable electricity."

Leader of the pro-market Free Democratic Party, Christian Lindner, welcomed the "ambitious climate goals," but said that it would be "advisable" for Germany to take a common EU approach rather than pursue a German "solo effort."

What was the ruling by the Constitutional Court?

Germany's top court declared that the 2019 climate protection law does not go far enough to sufficiently reduce emissions and limit climate change, which would violate the rights of younger generations to a humane future.

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The government had previously planned to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030, but the court said there was a lack of explanation about how further reductions would be achieved after that, thereby postponing burdens of cutting emissions until after 2030.

The judges gave the legislature until the end of next year to draw up clearer reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions for the period after 2030.

ab/rs (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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