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    Environmentalists Call New German Coalition's 2020 Climate Target Unrealistic

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    PARIS (Sputnik) – The target to ensure reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent by 2020 in comparison to the 1990 level, reiterated by the newly formed German coalition, will be hard to implement, environmental activists told Sputnik on Friday.

    Earlier on Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Christian Social Union (CSU) head Horst Seehofer and Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz finally agreed on key issues of German policy for the next four years in a document issued on Friday and are ready to form the next government. Regarding climate policy, both sides want to ensure the implementation of climate goals regarding the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent by 2020 compared to the level of emissions in 1990.

    Apart from the 2020 target, the sides also decided to take steps to reduce or stop the use of coal energy and increase the use of renewable energy sources to 65 percent by 2030. This announcement came following the rumors earlier this week that the negotiators agreed to get rid of plans to decrease carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2020.

    Lack of Tool to Curb Emissions and Corporations' Interest

    Germany has been struggling with its environmental commitments for quite a while. Despite its stated support for the renewable energy sources and fight against global warming, Germany has attracted plenty of criticism from activists over its dependence on coal.

    In October, the country's own environment ministry said it was worried that the transport emissions and coal-powered plants would make Germany miss its 2020 targets.

    "It was clear already mid-2016 to almost all observers that the 2020 target had become very complicate to reach. Due, inter alia, to the fast rising population and continued economic growth, both unforeseen by scenarios. But also due to very low CO2 prices in the European Emissions Trading System and a lack of additional instruments to curb emissions, such as a carbon floor price or a plan to close down coal power stations," Oldag Caspar, team leader for German and European low-carbon policy at Germanwatch NGO, told Sputnik.

    READ MORE: Key Preliminary Outcomes of the German Coalition Talks

    Dag Schulze, the national coordinator for Germany at the Climate Alliance network of European local authorities, agreed that it would be timely for the new German coalition government to abandon their unrealistic environmental goal as it was incompatible with the current growth-oriented economic system.

    "If you look into details, it’s more or less logical if they gave up this target now, because it’s not realistic to hold it … For me the big problem behind it is that this economic system, this monetary system cannot align with climate protection, because you need growth. And we couldn’t have growth if we don’t switch to renewable energy. This means that old economies don’t get profit," Schulze told Sputnik.

    Necessary Measures

    "In order to achieve the goals that have been set, the parties agreed that certain measures are necessary, including a law on climate, which would guarantee the achievement of these future goals," Caspar said.

    Schulze, in turn, noted that there are a lot of things to be changed in Germany in order for the new ruling coalition’s climate goals to be achieved.

    "We have a problem with climate change, we have a problem with the growth of economy, but we don’t really have political discussions about the right issues. We need to discuss solutions. We have solutions but our politicians, since they are not independent, don’t go this way," Schulze pointed out, adding that the energy market is dominated by old organizations which have the power and the money, and use it to impose their policies on the new market players.

    The activist continued by suggesting that Germany needed to shut down its nuclear power plants (NPPs).

    "What we saw in the past is they talk about energy security, security of supply and so on, and this is the reason why we need those power plants. That is nonsense. What we need is storage for fluctuating [power from renewable energy sources]. This would be the way to change. Then we need a completely different electricity market design. But everything was going in a wrong way for the past ten years, and this is really the problem," Schulze noted.

    In his point of view, the issue of tackling climate change is related with the economy and politics as a whole.

    "A lot of people are not satisfied with the politics. For me a big change is possible only if people stand up and say ‘we want another politics, we want another economy.’ There was a G20 summit, for example; all the big nations had meeting, and in the end there was nothing, we are not able, they don’t want to change the situation, because for all the big companies, for all the rich people the world how it is now is a good setting," Schulze said.

    The Climate Alliance coordinator continued by saying that the current situation may result in an "unfriendly world" in the future if changes are not made today.

    The views and opinions expressed by Oldag Caspar and Dag Schulze in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the position of Sputnik.


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