Experts find German green policy wanting

High expectations of red-green government not met, says national advisory council

Expectations that Germany's Socialist-Green government would raise the status of environmental policy after it took power in 1998 have not been met despite the appointment of the country's first ever Green environment minister, a national advisory group said today.

In a report to the government, the council of environmental experts (SRU) welcomes programmes to phase out nuclear power and introduce ecological tax reform, but says that the prominence of these two issues has "pushed other environmental policy themes into the background". The council calls on the government to give other green issues a higher status.

The study claims Germany is a back-marker among industrialised countries in the development of a sustainability strategy, although a parliamentary decision to form a council for sustainability had been taken.

On climate protection and air pollution control, the experts conclude that an already existing "discrepancy" between emissions and climate protection targets will continue to grow without significant additional efforts.

The council finds waste laws are not "environmentally compatible," picking out delays in revision of the technical regulations for disposal of domestic waste, now scheduled for discussion by the federal cabinet later this month, and the green dot packaging waste collection system for criticism.

Germany's ecological tax reform could be directed better to take account of the country's target of a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions, according to the report. Ecotaxes should be increased beyond 2003 and ecologically damaging subsidies must be scrapped.

The Green Party has welcomed the report, saying it agreed to a large extent with the criticisms levelled at the government of which it forms a part. Environmental group Nabu said the report showed how "miserable" the government's record was on environmental issues.

Follow Up:
SRU, tel: +49 611 754 210; German Green party, tel: +49 30 284 420; Nabu, tel: +49 228 403 6141.

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