Climate activists transformed German politics

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Negotiations over the next government are expected to last at least until the end of the year, which means Merkel will remain Germany’s leader throughout the Glasgow talks and will likely use the conference as a last chance to get away from it all. present as “the chancellor of the climate”.

At the conference, Germany will negotiate as part of the EU bloc, which has struggled to agree on a position these last weeks. While richer countries in Western Europe tend to want carbon reduction targets to apply within five years, poorer states in Eastern Europe prefer ten-year targets. Announcing the conclusions of internal EU negotiations last week, the Council of Ministers produced a classic rig: “The council expresses, with a view to reaching a consensus in Glasgow, its preference for a common deadline of five years”.

The difference between five and ten years may not seem significant. But it’s important to remember that greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere are more like a bath than a shower: it’s the total volume that matters, and all the physical evidence is that the bath is safe. the point of overflowing. The best evidence is that, if the world continues to emit at its current rate for the next eight years, then the warming is likely to exceed the 1.5 ° C that we need to stay below.

Against this background, it is likely that Merkel will try one last time to present herself as the tough leader forcing the EU to consensus. Its problem, however, is that the German example is far from perfect. As I explained last week, Germans have historically higher per capita emissions than any other country on earth except the US and UK.

The country has experienced an impressive boom in renewable energies: in 2003, wind, solar and hydroelectricity were at the origin of 17 GW of German power. Last year it was 120 GW. But this largely added to its coal consumption rather than its place: in 2003, coal was responsible for 49 GW. In 2020, it was 44 GW. It is as if Germany tried to go on a diet, not by forgoing the burgers, but by ordering a side salad as well: total energy production almost doubled during this period.

And in recent years, German manufacturers have actively outsourced a large part of their emissions to the very countries that are now reluctant to reduce them, with, for example, factories in the major German car manufacturers a common view – and a significant set of employers – across Hungary.


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