Experts: Reform of the climate protection law is likely to fail in Karlsruhe

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The federal government’s draft of the amendment to the Climate Protection Act contradicts the spirit of the judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court on climate justice. This was criticized by Roda Verheyen from the Hamburg law firm Günther, which had represented some of the complainants in the proceedings to which the executive branch is now reacting. The initiative does not provide for a right to a “quick, plannable and fair transformation”, although this is also important for companies. The “very moderate adaptation of the mechanisms” for climate protection planned by the government is not enough, complained Verheyen.

The shadow price for CO₂, for example, which should be at least 195 euros per tonne of CO₂, is set so low “that we will not see any effects whatsoever with federal investments”. The executive did not touch the “billions of unsuccessful subsidies” for fossil fuels either. 91 percent of the assumed CO₂ budget for 2030 has already been used up, and everything will be used up by 2035 at the latest, explained the lawyer. This would then still require an “emergency stop”, which the Karlsruhe judges wanted to avoid.

The climate council will not be strengthened either. In general, the “young people” who “fought for us all” would have found it sarcastic that the parties involved in the government suddenly said afterwards that they had always wanted the changes that have now been introduced. In addition, the plaintiffs were not even given the opportunity to comment on the draft within a reasonable period of time.

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According to the project, greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced by 65 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. So far, the reduction target has been 55 percent. Emissions are to be reduced by 88 percent by 2040, and Germany is to be climate-neutral by 2045. Barbara Metz from Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH), who initiated and financed two of the constitutional complaints, also considers the draft to be “not in conformity with the constitution”. She said the government should take remedial action immediately. This includes a speed limit of 120 km / h on the motorway and 30 km / h in the city, which could save up to 100 million CO₂ by 2030.

The executive branch also continues to neglect the private and public building sector, in which there is a massive backlog of renovations, complained Metz. The CO₂ price allocation would have to be charged 100 percent to the owners. The government had decided to split the costs halfway between tenants and landlords, but the CDU / CSU parliamentary group resisted.

According to the DUH representative, the authors of the draft have completely forgotten about the circular economy and have not given sufficient consideration to the CO₂ reduction potential of forests and moors, so that “further complaints will follow”.

Thorsten Müller from the Environmental Energy Law Foundation, on the other hand, assumed that the outlined regulations met the requirements of the court under the current framework conditions. The goal is clear to keep the temperature level well below a plus of 2 degrees compared to the pre-industrial era. How the legislature determines the remaining budget for Germany and secures temporal freedoms, lies within its decision-making framework. There are different evaluation methods here.

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Several experts from industry as well as from trade unions and local authorities agreed that the goals were in principle correct and necessary, but that an implementation strategy with concrete steps and compensation mechanisms for companies, workers and citizens was missing. Detlef Raphael from the Federal Association of Local Authorities, for example, called for a “rapid expansion of renewable energies such as wind, geothermal energy and photovoltaics”.

“There has been a lack of renewable electricity for 15 years,” criticized Michael Vassiliadis from the Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union. In view of the mammoth task ahead, the government must also be careful that it “does not become a question of social decision-making”. Stefan Körzell from the German Trade Union Federation pushed for a more comprehensive climate protection package 2.0, as aspects such as employment, good work and distribution were also in the foreground.

There is climate protection “only with innovations and investments”, explained Holger Lösch from the Federation of German Industries (BDI). The availability of “CO₂-neutral energy” such as hydrogen must be increased dramatically. It is also crucial to get “comparable targets” at the level of the G20 industrialized countries “very quickly.” In terms of approach, the executive “shoots far beyond what the Federal Constitutional Court has called for”.

“We need sectoral and national reduction paths,” emphasized the Magdeburg economist Joachim Weimann. With CO2 emissions trading, there is already an instrument that enables load-minimizing, safe avoidance. Politicians ignore this to a large extent and rely, for example, on promoting electric cars with taxpayers’ money, which is “40 to 80 times more expensive” when it comes to saving CO₂. A shadow price of 195 euros is also not decisive, as this indicates the maximum damage. The repairs now required could, however, be carried out much more cheaply and thus help avoid the worst case.

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The spectrum of experts heard extended to the US climate change denier William Happer, whom the AfD had named. The retired Princeton professor explained that the atmosphere has mostly contained too little CO₂ over the millennia and that the greenhouse gas is good for agriculture. It makes the planet greener. In view of an almost constant cooling ratio, the current CO₂ enrichment leads to a “warming of less than one degree” through the loss of energy into space. Therefore, all of the reduction measures were not worthwhile. NASA and the US climate agency NOAA just released other findings. The reform of the climate protection law is to be decided on Thursday in the plenary session of the Bundestag.


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