German cabinet approves climate protection measures

The German cabinet on Wednesday approved climate protection measures designed to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions, keeping on track plans by Chancellor Angela Merkel to pass the landmark package soon.

German Environment Minister, Svenja Schulze, took to Twitter to announce the approval of the measures, which would be enshrined in a Climate Protection Law.

Schulze said the approval is a relief for Merkel, whose right-left coalition has suffered regional elections losses and been raven by disputes over pension and tax reforms.

“Finally, there are binding rules for climate protection and that is a good thing.

“I have fought for this for a long time and I am happy that it was approved today,’’ Schulze said.

As Merkel and her ministers met at the chancellery, hundreds of Extinction Rebellion climate activists blocked a major bridge on the third day of global protests.

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The protest and barricade were designed to press governments to take more drastic action against global warming.

Clara Thompson, spokeswoman for Extinction Rebellion said “we have brought a `plastic sea’ with us to show the pollution in our oceans.

“We also want to draw attention to the United Nations and the World Climate Report.’’

Earlier, UN climate scientists warned in a report that if emissions of greenhouse gases are not slashed, the world would face a reality of cities vanishing under rising seas, rivers running dry and marine life collapsing.

Merkel, who has faced criticism that the measures were unambitious, vowed that the climate package would contain a mechanism to monitor compliance with emission limits set for individual sectors.

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She said that the mechanism would allow ministries to monitor, which sectors are meeting emissions goals and adjust targets, based on their progress.

Some of the mechanisms could yet be modified or toughened up in the upper chamber of parliament, she said.

The overall goal of the measures priced at 54 billion euros is to cut German greenhouse gas emissions to 55 per cent of the 1990 level by 2030.

Activists and the ecologist Green party, which has a strong position in the upper chamber, have been outraged by plans to introduce a carbon dioxide price of 10 euros.

It was a tonne for transport and heating in buildings from 2021 and gradually increased it to 35 euros in 2025.

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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 fossil fuels.

The government also wants to raise the car and air traffic taxes as well as increase a road toll for trucks from 2023.

It also wants to extend subsidies for electric cars and broaden a charging network.

The government wants to revive onshore wind turbine construction after it declined due to bureaucracy and citizens’ opposition.

Building up renewable energy capacity is paramount given plans to phase out both nuclear and coal power plants. (Reuters/NAN)

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