Updated on August 22, 2019, 19:10

Once German Chancellor Angela Merkel wanted to make Germany the class leader in environmental protection. A goal to which she now wants to build. In the Netherlands, she may have found a champion for her ambitious climate plans.

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Chancellor Angela Merkel supports a drastic tightening of the EU's climate target for 2030: A reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union by 55 percent could well support them, said the CDU politician on Thursday at the side of the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in The Hague ,

New wind for the climate movement

For the EU, this is a spectacular announcement – because it has been decided so far only a reduction of 40 percent. Some eastern EU countries are very skeptical about new targets and only a few months ago Merkel put herself on the brakes. But the wind has turned, not only in Germany and not only because of the movement Fridays for Future. Merkel is trying to make a comeback as climate chancellor and she is looking for partners in Europe – just like the Netherlands. On Thursday she therefore met with several ministers for consultations with the Dutch government to The Hague.

On September 20, the German "Climate Cabinet" will pitch pegs to create their own goal by 2030. 55 percent less greenhouse gases, Germany has also set itself as a national target. But that is not yet "spelled out", said Merkel.

The end of all coal power plants is clear

The Netherlands are already one step ahead. In June, they had agreed on a national climate pact to reach their own reduction target of 49 percent by 2030. The plans include a targeted climate levy for industry and a minimum price for CO2 in power generation. By 2030, all coal-fired power plants will be shut down and all new cars will be emission-free. By then, 70 percent of the Dutch electricity will come from renewable sources.

Germany is still arguing about how to make carbon dioxide emissions more expensive and thus reduce them without putting too much strain on citizens and businesses. The Climate Cabinet is only progressing by the millimeter, Environment Minister Svenja Schulze complained on Thursday in the "Stuttgarter Zeitung / Stuttgarter Nachrichten".

The industry should remain strong

Rutte – who incidentally campaigned for the 55-percent target at EU level a year ago – has decisions in his pocket. But he also worries about the implementation of the ambitious program, including the competitiveness of the industry, as he said on Merkel's side. The two countries must pull together and see what can be learned from each other, stressed the Prime Minister. That was the goal of these joint climate consultations.

And something else unites the neighbors. Both countries are still a long way from their ambitious climate goals. For example, in the Netherlands in 2017, it had dropped by 13 percent compared to the 1990 emissions of greenhouse gases. Germany had a reduction of around 30 percent in 2018 – but had already promised 40 percent for 2020. Now, the tempo of climate protection is set to increase in the next decade.

Controversy over the CO2 tax

There is a general consensus that CO2 emissions should also become more expensive during heating and traffic. This would provide an incentive to invest in new technology to avoid the harmful climate gas. However, it is disputed in Germany whether the goal can best be achieved with a tax or by expanding the trade in pollution rights.

Merkel recently showed sympathy for this extended emissions trading. The system already exists at the EU level for the energy sector and parts of the industry. Environment Minister Schulze instead promotes raising energy taxes on diesel, gasoline, heating oil and natural gas – colloquially called CO2 tax. The Netherlands is counting on a mix: The climate change tax for industry planned for 2021 is intended to supplement emissions trading and additionally push up the CO2 price. (Best / Reuters)

In the Russian village Ryrkaipij must be beaten several times a day because of polar bears. At the Arctic Ocean, the animals increasingly come too close to the settlements.

(tagToTranslate) EU (t) Angela Merkel (t) Germany (t) Netherlands (t) Mark Rutte

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