Angela Merkel – Macron, Merkel under pressure to speed up emissions cuts
France is not the only major European economy coming under pressure over its climate ambitions.
Germany’s constitutional court last week ruled that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2019 climate protection law violated the constitutional rights of future generations by failing to take enough action now – thus pushing too much of the carbon-cutting burden into future decades.
The German law includes the 55 per cent reduction target for 2030, but the court ruling will force the government to take tougher, more tangible measures to meet the target.
In response, Dr Merkel is reportedly rushing to prepare new proposals for her cabinet to consider this week.
That comes amid recent opinion polls showing that the resurgent German Greens are now level-pegging with her centre-right Christian Democratic Union party, ahead of an election in September.
The EU’s scaled-up climate ambitions have been one of the drivers behind a dramatic surge in the cost of carbon permits on the bloc’s Emissions Trading System (ETS).
The price of emitting a tonne of carbon dioxide has this week pushed above €50 per tonne for the first time – more than twice the level of a year ago – as traders respond to the prospect of Brussels having to cut the supply of permits to meet its emissions reduction target.
The soaring carbon price will increase European industry’s keenness for Brussels to press ahead with plans for a carbon border tax, which would ensure imports to the bloc – including from Australia – face equivalent costs.
For all its claimed shortcomings, France’s law pushes wide and deep. It will require clothes to have an environmental impact rating, schools to offer vegetarian meals one day a week, and would rule out domestic flights where there is a railway alternative taking under 2½ hours.
Cafes and restaurants would no longer be able to use patio heaters on their terraces, polluting cars would be banned, landlords face increasingly stringent energy efficiency measures, and airport expansions will be vetoed.
“Rather than big words and huge, unachievable objectives that only generate social resistance, we are putting in place effective measures,” Environment Minister Barbara Pompili told MPs.
Some of the measures emerged from a public consultation the Macron administration ran last year after previous policies, including an increase in fuel taxes, prompted the gilets jaunes (yellow vest) protest movement.