Everyone agrees cutting CO2 emissions is necessary, but the question is how much?Image: picture-alliance / dpa
EU Calls Germany on CO2
DW staff (kjb)
December 11, 2006
Just weeks before Germany assumes both the EU and G8 presidencies, the European Commission has said Berlin isn't doing enough to reduce CO2 emissions, although Germany has declared climate policy a top priority.
Germany has already announced that the issue of climate change and the reduction of CO2 emissions will be high on its presidential agenda starting in January when it takes control of both the EU Commission and the Group of 8 most industrialized countries.
It was, then, all the more embarrassing when the EU Commission demanded that Germany further decrease its own greenhouse gas emissions, saying the country should reduce the amount from 465 tons to 453 tons between 2008 and 2012.
In response, the German Energy Agency (DENA) has called on to Berlin to take legal action against the regulations from Brussels.
Economic interests at stake
"We're not talking about peanuts here, but about mandatory cuts of 30 percent for the energy market. That will affect whether Germany will be able to build any more power plants at all," DENA chairman Stephan Kohler told the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
Kohler sees national sovereignty as central to the energy issue. "It's not the EU's job to tell individual countries how to fulfill their duties and it doesn't have the right to such massive interference in Germany's share of the burden," FAZ quoted him as saying.
The trade union ver.di has also criticized the Commission's requirements.
"The Commission has way overshot the goal," said ver.di Chairman Frank Bsirske, adding that the regulations would endanger newer, environmentally friendly power plants and thousands of jobs.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, Germany has already committed to reducing its CO2 emissions by 2012 by 21 percent in relation to emissions in 1990. The EU as a whole, however, promised a reduction of only 8 percent over the same time span.
The current 465-ton limit on CO2 emissions in Germany is 3.5 percent less than what Environmental Minister Sigmar Gabriel had originally approved. However, emissions have increased of late, instead of sinking.
Common energy policy essential
Over the past year, it has become increasingly evident that Europe is in urgent need of a common energy policy, but hasn't yet been able to agree on one.
When Russia turned off the power in Ukraine a year ago, Europe was given a "wake-up call," as Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel put it, that not all the major players were on the same page.
More recently, Poland's veto of an EU-Russian strategic energy partnership in protest of a year-old Russian ban on Polish meat imports was an indication that opinions differ even within the EU.
Discussions over aircraft and vehicle emissions, as outlined in EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs' "Action Plan for Energy Efficiency," have made little headway as well.