Germany’s would-be coalition agrees 2020 climate target is out of reach

Coal is still king in Germany.
Coal is still king in Germany.
Image: REUTERS/Ina Fassbender
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Germany’s Christian Democratic Union, its sister party Christian Social Union, and the Social Democratic party have plenty of hurdles to overcome as they start talking about forming the country’s next government.

One thing that all sides agree on, according to the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) news agency, is that the country’s climate target of reducing CO2 levels by 40% from their 1990 levels is un-doable. (The goal had been was set by the coalition government back in 2007, but Germany has been failing to get anywhere near that level.)

A report from the environmental think-tank Agora Energiewende said (link in German) in September that by 2016, Germany had only gotten emissions down by 28% from 1990 levels.

According to the RND, a paper from the coalition talks’ energy and environment working group notes that: “The short-term goal for 2020 will not be achieved from today’s perspective.” However, they reportedly want to hold to the goal of reducing emissions by 55% compared to 1990 by 2030.

The Greens, who are not part of the coalition talks, slammed the idea of postponing the climate target as “irresponsible,” tweeting that the grand coalition is “making a sacrifice” of climate protection.

Angela Merkel promised during the election campaign that Germany would find ways to stick to its 2020 goal. But she really needs these coalition talks to work. A disappointing election showing for her Christian Democratic Union, and her shattered coalition talks in November with the Free Democrats and the Greens have left the chancellor in a precarious position. Either she forms another “grand coalition” between the CDU and SPD, or Germany faces a snap election. Merkel has said she does not want to form a minority government, which is the only other option.

The SPD initially flatly refused to govern with Merkel and her party again after a 2013-2017 stint. This time around, if they are to do it all again, they want more influence in the partnership.