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German ministries fail to agree details of climate deal

German ministries have failed to agree on a set of climate protection measures, government sources said on Wednesday, October 2, 2019, leaving little time to fulfil Chancellor Angela Merkel’s plan to pass the landmark package this year.

Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel, German Chancellor

The disagreements between the environment, finance, economy and transport ministries could further erode the credibility of Merkel’s right-left coalition, weakened by regional election losses and infighting and up for review by the end of the year.

A government spokesman, however, appeared to downplay the risk that there would be no deal and said the cabinet would approve the final details next Wednesday.

The ministries have been unable to agree on the scale of measures to cut emissions of the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.

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These are due to include raising car and air traffic taxes as well as increasing a road toll for trucks from 2023, the sources, who were briefed on the talks, said.

The ministries are also at odds on how many tonnes of carbon dioxide each of those measures will shave off Germany’s total emissions.

Merkel’s conservatives and their Social Democrat Party (SDP) coalition partners in September agreed an outline for the climate package without taking on new debt to fund the measures, although environmental groups said it did not go far enough.

The government spokesman said: “The agreed details of the comprehensive and already agreed climate protection programme will be passed by the cabinet next week.”

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The government had originally wanted the details to be presented to cabinet on Wednesday.

The delay means there are only 10 days left for the government to sign the package off in time to get it through parliament before the end of the year.

Sources said that the transport ministry had asked for more time to process the proposals.

The ministry is controlled by the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavaria-based sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU).

Both those parties and the SPD are accused by environmental activists of putting the interests of the car industry first and shielding it from tougher emissions rules.

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“The clock is ticking,” said SPD lawmaker Matthias Miersch. “Everyone in the government has to understand that the time of turf wars and power struggles is over.”

Climate experts and opposition parties, including the Greens and the radical Left Party have ridiculed the measures as a “sham” and a “bluff package”.

At the centre of their outrage is a decision to introduce a carbon dioxide price of 10 euros a ton for transport and heating in buildings from 2021 and gradually increase it to 35 euros in 2025.

Economists and activists had hoped for a starting price of at least 40 euros and point to Switzerland where that price is about 90 euros for heating with fossils.


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