German cabinet passes formal climate strategy

Industry to make bigger CO2 cuts under new agreement; NGO says programme "rests on hope"

The German cabinet today passed a national climate protection programme aimed at achieving existing targets of cutting carbon dioxide emissions to one quarter below 1990 levels by 2005 and the basket of greenhouse gases defined in the Kyoto protocol by 21% by 2008-2012 in accordance with the EU's burden sharing agreement.

Measures include increased use of cogeneration, or combined heat and power, to cut 10m tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the electricity sector by 2005 and 23m tonnes by 2010. It also aims to make renewables reach a 10% share of electricity generation by 2010.

Existing policies are expected to yield an 18-20% cut in CO2 emissions by 2005. New elements in the programme are designed to fill the remaining five to seven percentage point gap between this and Germany's domestic goal. It concretises and develops proposals for action in the industry, domestic, buildings, and transport sectors set out in a draft climate programme published in July (ENDS Daily 27 July).

A significant development since the draft programme is inclusion of a new commitment by German industry to reduce CO2 emissions voluntarily. In a document which is "ready to sign" the federal industry association (BDI) and 19 others, will undertake to reduce emissions of the gas by 28% by 2005 based on 1990 levels - rather than 20% agreed in 1996 - and the basket of Kyoto gases by 35% by 2012.

Environmental NGO Bund says that critical areas of the package rest on "the principle of hope," pointing in particular to the lack of mandatory CO2 reduction targets beyond 2005 and concluding that industry's voluntary agreement is "no guarantee for climate protection". The NGOs are unanimous in their criticism of a lack of new speed limits on Germany's roads. "The government seems to be relying on the voluntary agreement of car drivers to take their foot off the gas," said Bund spokesperson Gerhard Timm.

The BDI called its new agreement a "central building block" of the programme and said that the "very demanding goals set by the government could only be achieved through investment in the most modern technology".

Follow Up:
German environment ministry, tel: +49 30 28 55 00 and press release, national climate protection programme, Bund, tel: +49 30 27 58 60 and press release.

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