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Grand Coalition: Where Union and SPD are still divided on climate protection

2019-09-16T13:54:06.114Z

The Union has adopted its climate protection concept, until Friday is an agreement with the SPD ago. How good this gets depends mainly on three issues.



The German government wants to present its long-announced climate protection package this Friday. It should finally bring a breakthrough - so far, namely Germany threatens the climate targets for 2030, to which one has committed itself internationally, to miss. Until then, the CO2 emissions should be reduced by 55 percent. For this there is the "absolute will", says government spokesman Steffen Seibert. Above all, it will be a question of reducing CO2 emissions in traffic, in buildings and in agriculture.

The EU and SPD have already positioned themselves in advance, but crucial questions remain. The Union wants to "clear out and energetically refurbish energy taxes and charges", as it says in its position paper, thus aligning the tax system more consistently with climate protection. In addition, she wants to spend money above all else. For example, it proposes a scrapping premium for old oil heating, tax cuts on train tickets in long-distance transport or a higher premium for the purchase of electric cars. If gasoline prices rise, she wants to increase the commuter tax. It wants to promote climate-friendly innovations and rejects tax increases.

The SPD, however, demands clear rules. "We can no longer do that, we only make funding programs and set no rules," says Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz. For example, the SPD advocates not only promoting the replacement of oil heating systems, but also preventing their installation from 2030 onwards. The Union is strictly against it.

Next Thursday at a meeting of the coalition committee last differences are to be dispelled. Whether the agreement helps the climate, decides in the end but not on the detail question, whether oil heating should be banned or their exchange is funded only, but at three points:

1. CO2 price

Climate scientists and economists agree: In order to truly protect the climate, it must be more expensive to emit greenhouse gases such as CO2. It must hurt to harm the climate. A CO2 price must therefore come from, which would be especially on gasoline, diesel or fuel oil pitched. Basically, all coalition partners agree, but how exactly the CO2 price should look, they argue quite fundamentally for months.

Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) campaigned long for a CO2 tax. It might be faster to implement than an emissions trading system for the transport and building sectors. It could be collected as early as 2020 and then gradually and reliably increase. The revenue could be partly returned to the citizens - so you could avoid social upheavals. Another part could be climate-friendly investments, such as the development of public transport or subsidized programs for better insulated buildings.

However, the EU parties strictly reject a CO2 tax. Instead, they want to introduce emissions trading for the transport and building sectors, with certificate prices rising steadily. Like a tax, the certificate trade would make the consumption of heating oil, gas, gasoline or diesel more expensive. However, in order to keep the costs for the citizens under control, the Union wants to introduce a maximum price for the certificates. In order for the trade to work in any case, they are planning a minimum price - which in principle would work like a tax, just would not mean that.

The SPD has long favored a tax, but currently speaks only of a CO2 price. A compromise seems close - and it is crucial. Because if the coalition partners do not agree on a CO2 price at an effective level, the climate targets by 2030 can hardly be achieved.

2nd Climate Protection Act

Basically, it can be said: The SPD wants more liability in climate protection than the Union. On Monday, Minister of the Environment Schulze demanded that the coalition agree on a binding climate protection concept "with clear responsibilities and control mechanisms", so that later on it could also verify whether it achieved its self-imposed goals. It must be checked again and again, "if we are on the right path". If this is not the case, "must be readjusted".

Schulze wants a climate protection law that defines very clear CO2 reduction targets for the relevant ministries: transport, agriculture and interior for the building sector. Departments that miss their target should pay fines out of their own household. But there is great resistance to their plans in the Union, because they would mainly hit Union-led ministries.

Regardless of whether in the form of Schulze's law or otherwise: Decisive for the effectiveness of the climate package to be presented on Friday will be whether the coalition formulates clear interim goals that it wants to achieve - and above all, whether it also makes these goals binding.

3. Financing

A possible scrapping premium for oil heating, tax relief for building renovations, the expansion of public transport or a multi-control tax reduction on train tickets: It costs all the money. According to a report by the Reuters news agency, the federal government expects costs of 40 billion euros in the coming four years alone.

Where should the amount come from? That too is still unclear. So far, at any rate, the coalition holds to the fact that no new debt should be included, not even for climate protection. The Union wants to issue climate bonds, fixed rate: two percent to get money. But the SPD refuses.

So much will depend on how the revenue from the carbon price develops, and whether the money is returned to the public or otherwise budgeted.

(with agencies: dpa, afp, Reuters)

Source: zeit

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