There is a dispute within the federal government over the introduction of a CO2 tax. Experts warn that if the federal government fails to meet the climate targets for 2030, payments of up to 60 billion Euros could become due. By Dirk Mewis
SPD Environment Minister Svenja Schulze admitted during the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in May that the German government does not yet have a plan as to how the climate protection targets for 2030 will be reached. At the same time at the EU summit in May, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) explicitly refused to join an initiative by France and seven other countries that want to become completely climate neutral by 2050.
Anyone who emits too much CO2 must pay
The demand for a CO2 tax is becoming louder from not only environmental associations and the scientific community, but also from industry. The head of the energy company Eon, Johannes Teyssen, has now pleaded for a CO2 tax of initially 30 Euros per tonne, which would later rise to 35 Euros. „Those would be prices that could make a difference,“ Teyssen told the Tagesspiegel. The Association of Municipal Enterprises, headed by former CDU member of the Bundestag Katherina Reiche, also spoke out in favour of a CO2 tax of 35 to 40 Euros per tonne, to be used primarily to lower electricity prices.
The Agora Energie- und Verkehrswende think tank goes even further, presenting a complete concept for a climate protection law. This also provides for a CO2 tax, which will initially amount to 50 Euros per tonne. The revenue is to be used primarily for a reduction in the electricity tax and a climate premium of 100 Euros per person and year. Agora also proposes, among other things, higher targets for the expansion of green electricity, financial incentives for the renovation of buildings and the purchase of electric cars, as well as a quota for green hydrogen in the natural gas grid.
Representatives from industry, politics, trade unions and environmental associations are involved in the think tank’s council. „If Germany does not manage, as agreed, to emit at least 55 percent less greenhouse gases by 2030 than it did in 1990, the German government will have to buy missing CO2 pollution rights in other EU states for 30 to 60 billion Euros over the next decade. This money would be better invested here in Germany,“ says Patrick Graichen of Agora Energiewende.
In order to achieve the climate targets for 2030, Germany must reduce its CO2 emissions by 25 million tonnes annually. Emissions are currently reduced by only around 10 million tonnes.
In the area of power generation and buildings, significant progress has already been made, according to the think tank. The experts see problems above all in the industrial and transport sectors, where greenhouse gas emissions have recently stagnated or even increased slightly.
Exceptions for the logistics sector
In the debate over the introduction of CO2 pricing for the transport and heating sectors, Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) has now brought exceptions into play for the freight forwarding industry. One could possibly exempt transport companies from a CO2 tax on fuels, she told the DVZ at the presentation of three reports on possible CO2 pricing. The expert Uwe Nestle of the Berlin Forum Ökologisch- Soziale Marktwirtschaft (FÖS) advocated compensation payments to forwarding companies in return for higher fuel prices. For example, the charges for commercial diesel could be reduced accordingly, thus offsetting the higher CO2 prices. The energy expert Claudia Kemfert from the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) proposed to relieve logistics companies of motor vehicle tax. At the same time, the collection of CO2 costs in Germany had to be coordinated and harmonised with the neighbouring European countries.
In order to counteract the spreading „tank tourism“.
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