Schröder's environmental record attacked

Germany's red/green coalition has produced "a year full of dashed hopes," NGO claims

Germany's red/green government has failed to fulfil its environmental policy making promise, providing instead "a year full of dashed hopes," leading German NGO Nabu said yesterday. The group issued a series of demands for policy changes and called on the government to use its current move from Bonn to Berlin to make a "new start".

Expectations of ambitious German environmental policy-making ran high after last autumn's SPD/Green election victory (ENDS Daily 29 September 1998). The honeymoon quickly ended amid furious rows over the plan to phase out nuclear power (ENDS Daily 15 December 1998), rumours of strained relations between chancellor Gerhard Schröder and environment minister Jürgen Trittin (ENDS Daily 12 March) and international embarrassment during Germany's EU presidency when Mr Trittin was forced to block agreement on the proposed scrap cars directive (ENDS Daily 24 June).

According to Nabu, the overall balance of the government's first year in office is clearly negative, despite some acknowledged policy successes. The NGO alleges, in particular, that a goal agreed last autumn of using increased taxes on energy to finance a cut in employment charges of at least 2.4% (ENDS Daily 19 October 1998) will not now be met.

Other Nabu criticisms range widely across different policy making fields. National implementation of the EU's habitats directive is proceeding far too slowly, the group says, while the stormy national debate over operating lifetimes for nuclear power stations has not helped to bring the goal of an actual nuclear phase-out into view.

On climate policy, Nabu claims that no concrete measures have been taken to achieve the national target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 25% between 1990 and 2005. Returning to the government's ecotax laws, the group calls for a "drastic reduction" in the number of exemptions being granted to the new energy taxes.

Listing its demands for a new start in German environmental policy making, Nabu calls for an amendment to the nuclear power law and a commitment for a complete nuclear phase-out within seven years. It says that national targets should be set to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030 and to reduce energy use by 40% by the same time. The group also calls for a new nature protection law to be introduced. Nabu president Jochen Flasbarth told ENDS Daily that the government was not even working on a new proposal even though it announced it at the start of its term.

Follow Up:
Nabu, tel: +49 228 97561.

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