Explained: What is Germany’s Climate Protection Act?

Mehr Gill
Germany is trying to reach its climate target by 2030.

Germany's Climate Protection Act

The German parliament passed the Climate Protection Act on Friday in an attempt to reach its climate target by 2030. This will be Germany’s first climate action law. With this bill, a price on carbon emissions in the transport and heating sectors will be imposed along with some other measures to combat climate change. Furthermore, lawmakers on Friday also supported to hike the prices of domestic and European flight tickets.

Last week, New Zealand passed the Zero-Carbon Law in a bid to comply with it's Paris climate accord commitments and become a carbon-neutral nation by the year 2050. However, unlike New Zealand, where the bill was passed with near-unanimous support, the same was not the case with Germany, where the opposition voted against it.

What does the bill say

The bill consists of emissions targets for different sectors of the economy such as transport, energy and housing. Furthermore, the German parliament also wants to adopt a legislative package with various instruments for climate change such as a price on the emissions of CO2 on fuel, heating oil and gas. This is because apart from trying to reach its climate targets by 2030, Germany also wants to save over 55 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990.

From 2021, companies that market diesel and petrol, heating oil and natural gas in the country will need to obtain pollution rights for the amount of greenhouse gases they emit. This will be regulated through a national emissions trading mechanism. The cost of these emissions will drive up the cost of using fossil fuels, making the usage of such fuels more expensive for the citizens and hence, discouraging their use and paving the way for climate-friendly technologies.

Additionally, flying domestically and within Europe will be made more expensive. German newspaper Die Welt reported that the aviation tax will be increased by more than 5 euros to 13.03 euros per ticket and for longer flights up to 6000 km by just under 10 euros to 33.01 euros. For flights longer than 6000 km, the tax will be increased to 59.43 euros. Conversely, the VAT on long-distance train journeys will fall from the present 19 percent to seven percent.

Significantly, renovations will also be taxed for three years from 2020 onwards.

What is the criticism 

On Friday, Zeit Online reported that the opposition has criticised the decisions of Germany’s ruling coalition government as inadequate. Furthermore, the opposition complained that the climate package was not sufficient and that the goals were not achievable. Some criticisms said that the price of CO2 was kept too low to dissuade its emissions and the increased burden on the citizens.An op-ed in Die Welt said, “An ecologically successful experiment that massively burdens a majority of people can quickly lead to a memo at the next election. Ecologically inefficient, but social measures cost valuable time.”