Monday

13th Jul 2020

Germany slams Dutch call for more ambitious EU climate goal

  • The European Union pavilion at the Bonn climate conference (Photo: European Commission)

Germany's outgoing environment minister said on Friday (17 November) that a Dutch proposal to increase the EU's emissions reduction target to 55 percent was "unrealistic".

"I don't think that the European Union will be capable of achieving this," minister Barbara Hendricks told this website at a press conference in Bonn, on the final day of international climate talks.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • German environment minister Hendricks, speaking because Germany is technically the host of this year's climate talks (the presidency is held by Fiji, but the summit is held in Bonn for practical reasons) (Photo: UNFCCC)

She spoke a day after newly-appointed Dutch minister for economic affairs and climate, Eric Wiebes, came to Bonn to find support for an increased climate ambition within the bloc.

In October 2014, EU leaders agreed that the EU should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030, compared with 1990 levels.

Wiebes wants to raise that reduction target to 55 percent, the same figure which Germany has set for itself.

"Germany wants to reduce by 55 percent and I'm quite convinced that we'll be able to achieve this," said Hendricks.

But she said "all of the EU" would not be able to do the same.

"We could be more ambitious, going a bit beyond the 40 percent already agreed, but I think 55 percent will not be realistic."

Hendricks, in government since December 2013, is a centre-left Social Democrat, whose party lost significantly at German parliament elections in September.

She is caretaker minister until coalition talks – which do not include her party – are wrapped up.

Nevertheless, she still speaks on behalf of Berlin and her dismissive comments will likely disappoint the new Dutch government, which began its work last month after lengthy, record-breaking coalition talks.

The Dutch coalition deal agreed in October already included the intention to increase the goal to 55 percent, but this week was the first time Wiebes presented it at an international forum.

He said neighbouring countries were "positive" that the Netherlands "wants to belong to the leading group", but did not say whether specific countries were convinced yet.

The Netherlands is mostly looking to countries in its neighbourhood and the Nordics.

Sweden has previously called for an increase beyond 50 percent.

"We will push for higher ambition," a member of the Swedish delegation at the Bonn conference told this website.

The "at least 40 percent" reduction target from 2014 was the result of difficult negotiations that culminated at an EU summit, where coal-reliant Poland and other eastern European countries had to be given some concessions.

It also included the possibility for the EU to review its targets, depending on how climate talks in Paris in 2015 played out - if negotiations collapsed, the targets could be revised downward.

Instead, the climate conference in Paris did lead to a historic climate agreement, which supports the argument for those EU countries that want to raise ambition.

But the Dutch coalition parties have also included in their coalition deal a contingency plan: if an increased EU target is not possible, they want to team up with "like-minded" countries in the north-west of Europe – like Germany – to reach "more ambitious agreements".

Whether Hendricks' successor will be open to that, will depend on the result of the German coalition talks between the two Christian-Democrat parties CDU and CSU, the Greens, and the Liberals.

German coalition talks in near collapse

Migration, climate and energy and finance policies are blocking the formation of a 'Jamaica' government between Christian-Democrats, liberals and Greens in Berlin.

EUobserved

Does Juncker even know what is in the Paris climate deal?

'To fix new goals again and again, doesn't make sense,' said the president of the European Commission. However, repeatedly ratcheting-up climate ambition is a key part of what was agreed in Paris.

News in Brief

  1. Croatia opens for US tourists, defying EU ban
  2. Poll: only 61% of Germans would get Covid-19 vaccine
  3. UK to spend €788m on new UK-EU border control system
  4. Berlin wants first use of EU cyber sanctions on Russia
  5. Erdogan warns neighbours over hydrocarbon reserves
  6. Bulgaria: political crisis amid anti-corruption protests
  7. Pope and Turkish-German leader join Hagia Sophia protest
  8. France and UK create joint migrant intelligence unit

Regions urge EU to act on 'green hydrogen'

The EU's regions urged the unlocking of the potential of hydrogen produced from renewable sources, so-called 'green hydrogen', to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

France shuts oldest reactor amid Macron climate pledges

France's oldest nuclear power plant finally closed on Tuesday, one day after president Emmanuel Macron pledged to speed up the country's transition to a greener economy responding to the proposals from the French citizens' convention on climate.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Poland's EU-battles to continue as Duda wins tight vote
  2. EU 'in-person' summit plus key data privacy ruling This WEEK
  3. Let's have positive discrimination for EU stagiaires
  4. We need to do more for our small and medium-sized enterprises
  5. Romania's virus surge prompts queues and new worries
  6. Michel lays out compromise budget plan for summit
  7. Border pre-screening centres part of new EU migration pact
  8. EU 'failed to protect bees and pollinators', report finds

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us