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Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck: "Cheapest bid first until the money runs out"

Photo: Michael Kappeler / dpa

Companies from particularly energy-hungry industries will soon be able to apply for so-called climate protection contracts, according to the will of Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection Robert Habeck (Greens). Those interested in state funding will have two months from this Tuesday to participate in the preparatory process, the ministry announced in Berlin on Monday. Participation is a prerequisite for later participation in the bidding process, in which companies can submit their project. A first bidding process is to take place before the end of this year.

In the case of a climate protection contract, the state should guarantee the company a compensation payment that compensates it for the higher costs of climate-friendly production. In addition, the company is to be hedged against uncertainties, for example in the price development of hydrogen. The addressees are energy-intensive industrial sectors, such as the steel, cement, paper or glass industries. Climate protection agreements are also mentioned as a possible instrument in the coalition agreement between the SPD, the Greens and the FDP.

The prerequisite is the use of 100 percent green electricity and previous emissions of ten kilotons of CO₂ per year and company. For this reason, the climate protection contracts are also aimed at energy-intensive SMEs and not just at very large companies, Habeck emphasized. The aim is to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in industry and at the same time maintain the competitiveness of companies in Germany. "We want to reduce CO₂ emissions and at the same time have an intact industry in Europe," he emphasized.

Initially, a mid-double-digit billion amount is planned, as Habeck said. "Cheapest bid first, until the money is gone," Habeck described the later bidding process. In the end, everyone benefited from the development of new, more climate-friendly production techniques. The bidding process is intended to support those companies that want to achieve the production conversion with the lowest costs. "We estimate that by 2045 the amount of CO₂ saved will be 350 megatons. This is about a third of the sector target in industry through this instrument alone," Habeck said. Germany is a pioneer in this form of low-bureaucracy funding, which only the Netherlands has tried so far.

However, there are two important reservations: On the one hand, the EU Commission must approve the plans, because state subsidies for industry always raise the question of possible distortions of competition in Europe. Habeck said that there was a basic agreement of the Brussels authority, further open questions must be clarified in the course. And secondly, the money must be allocated in the federal budget, which is not yet standing.