German Greens make election pledge to meet climate goals

With less than two months before Germany holds an election, the environmentalist Green party has announced a 10-point plan that puts the Paris climate accord’s goal at the heart of its election program

Among the measures proposed is the creation of a dedicated Climate Ministry that would have the power to veto government decisions which don't comply with the 2015 Paris Agreement's target of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit).

“We need to set a course that would make 1.5 degrees possible,” said Annalena Baerbock, the party's candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor in the Sept. 26 vote.

Scientists say the goal will be hard to achieve without a wholesale change to the entire world economy, and even the less-ambitious target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees (3.6F) by the end of the century compared with pre-industrial times will be a challenge.

Co-leader Robert Habeck acknowledged that the Green party’s plan would be expensive.

“Somebody is going to have to pay for it,” he said, adding that the Greens want the additional money needed to be raised through greater government borrowing that he said would spur economic growth.

Other measures the party is proposing include a sharp expansion of renewable energy — with a requirement that all new public buildings have solar roofs — and a faster phase-out of fossil fuels, which would see Germany end the burning of coal and the sale of combustion engine vehicles by 2030.

Among the most contentious issues for car-loving Germans is the introduction of a 130 kilometers per hour (80mph) speed limit on all highways, which experts estimate would save almost 2 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.

Environmental organizations said the party's proposals were a step in the right direction. But Greenpeace said more drastic measures will be needed to really achieve the Paris goals.

The Greens are trailing the center-right Union bloc in opinion polls, but last month's deadly floods have pushed climate change back up the political agenda. The party stands a strong chance of being part of the next governing coalition, even if it doesn't win the election.

Merkel is not running for a fifth term. Her party has chosen Armin Laschet, the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state, as its candidate to become the next chancellor.

The country's current finance minister, Olaf Scholz, has the strongest personal approval ratings of the three main candidates in recent surveys. But his center-left Social Democrats are third-placed in the polls.

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