German industry in new climate commitment

Deal signed with government to reduce emissions of all six Kyoto protocol greenhouse gases

German industry has pledged to make large greenhouse gas emission cuts relative to output in a voluntary agreement signed with the federal government last week. The agreement extends an existing deal on cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and was included in Germany's recent national climate protection plan (ENDS Daily 18 October). Details of the commitments have still to be hammered out with 19 industry sectoral groups.

German industry federation BDI described the deal as the biggest pollution cutting commitment by industry anywhere in the world. Under it, CO2 emissions relative to output are to be cut 28% from 1990 levels by 2005, while emissions of all six greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto protocol are to be cut 35% from 1990 levels by 2012.

The new agreement replaces an existing one, signed in 1995, under which 12 industry sectors agreed to make a 20% absolute cut in carbon dioxide emissions between 1990 and 2005. According to latest figures, they have surpassed this target already. Since the new target is relative to output, it is unclear whether it is actually tougher than the old one or not, even though the headline figure is higher.

In return for industry's commitment, the government has agreed to "ensure that no international competitive disadvantage" results from the further development of ecological tax reform. It also promised that threatened company energy audits would not be introduced but it stood by its much heralded energy saving ordinance (ENDS Daily 27 July) and support for expansion of Germany's cogeneration industry (ENDS Daily 29 March).

Progress towards the new targets will be monitored and published annually by economics institute RWI.

Follow Up:
BDI, tel: +49 30 20281; voluntary agreement; press release; BDI president's speech.

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