Newspaper article International New York Times

Germany Renews Effort to Reduce Emissions ; Berlin Unveils New Plan, Though Companies Fear Loss of Competitiveness

Newspaper article International New York Times

Germany Renews Effort to Reduce Emissions ; Berlin Unveils New Plan, Though Companies Fear Loss of Competitiveness

Article excerpt

A new plan would triple emission reductions from current levels, spreading the cuts across sectors like agriculture and automobiles.

Germany has fallen behind in its ambitious goals for reducing carbon emissions. It is burning more coal than at any point since 1990. And German companies are complaining that the nation's energy policies are hurting their ability to compete globally.

But on Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel's government said it was redoubling its efforts, proposing new measures to help it reach the emissions-reduction target for 2020 it set seven years ago when it undertook an aggressive effort to combat climate change.

The new plan was unveiled by a country eager to retain a leadership position in international talks to address the threat from global warming. The plan underscored Ms. Merkel's commitment despite the problems it has caused her at home.

The plan calls on Germans to cut an additional 62 million to 78 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions -- the annual output of about seven million German households. That would triple emission reductions from current levels, spreading the cuts across sectors like agriculture and automobiles.

The program, which would be established by laws to be passed by Parliament, rests on improved energy efficiency, with 3 billion euros, or $3.7 billion, in tax breaks and other incentives.

Roughly a third of the cuts are to come from the power industry, even as coal-fired plants continue to play an essential role.

Germany's predicament reflects the difficulty faced by modern economies in reducing carbon as an energy source. But polls show that most Germans favor reducing emissions.

"If we want to keep our promise, we need to close this gap, and that is what we are doing," Barbara Hendricks, Ms. Merkel's environment minister, said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Ms. Hendricks is to present Germany's position next week in Lima, Peru, to leaders who are working to create the basis for a new global agreement on emissions reductions ahead of a world summit meeting in Paris next year. Last month, China and the United States, the world's two biggest polluters, announced plans to lower carbon emissions. …

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