As Europe puts in place its emissions trading programme to put a cap on greenhouse gases, government announcements send waves throughout the region. After British industry voiced its concerns recently, it has now been joined by its German counterpart.
German Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin has revealed the first public draft of its national allocation plan, thus complying with a European Commission directive requiring that all membership compile and submit a list of 2600 companies and their proposed emission credit allocations by March.
Industry leaders promptly reacted by expressing their concerns about the effect of the plan on German competitiveness in the global market. Like the British government, the German Environment Ministry has placed stricter regulations upon companies who will be required to eliminate an additional 7.5 per cent of their emissions on top of the measures they have already volunteered to take. Mr Trittin justified the higher caps by reminding companies of their July 2002 voluntary agreement to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 45Mt by 2010. But industry has refuted the validity of the deal, saying it was agreed upon providing the government would pledge there would be no additional costs for companies when implementing the emissions voucher system.
Their stance was seconded by the Economics Ministry, worried about the effect of the allocations on the national coal industry. It hopes to come to an agreement with the Environmental Ministry. The coal industry wants incentives for shifting from coal to natural gas to be removed from Mr Trittin’s plan.
Moreover, he has also come under attack from the country’s environmental lobby, who say it would dilute previously agreed German climate protection objectives.
Regine Günther, a World Wildlife Federation climate expert added to the debate: “We can hardly still go along with it. … Industry got everything, I mean everything, they demanded. Nothing more was demanded of them than what they already voluntarily agreed to do on their own. “
However, Mr Trittin has rejected criticism to the plan and said he is determined to continue along planned lines, with industry and energy sectors to cut down carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5 per cent annually.