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Germany pledges €100 billion in the fight against climate change

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government plans to commit at least €100 billion on climate protection by 2030, according to a draft policy paper being discussed on Thursday.

Germany pledges €100 billion in the fight against climate change
Demonstrators at a Fridays for Future march in Frankfurt earlier this year. Photo: DPA

Merkel's conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats were expected to haggle late into the night on the details before the landmark policy package was due to be announced Friday.

The EU's biggest economy is set to miss its climate targets for next year but has committed itself to meeting the 2030 goal of a 55 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels.

Export powerhouse Germany accounts for around two percent of the worldwide emissions blamed for heating the Earth's atmosphere, melting ice caps, rising sea levels and intensifying violent weather events.

After two blistering summers and a wave of Fridays For Future student strikes and other environmental protests, the Merkel government has faced rising pressure to step up its efforts to protect the climate.

READ ALSO: Six things to know about the upcoming climate strikes in Germany

The coalition now looks to commit to spending “in the triple digit billions”, or at least €100 billion, according to the nearly 140-page draft paper titled “Climate Protection Programme 2030” seen by AFP.

The document states that “the additional investments in climate-friendly measures will support the economy” and help future-proof Germany as a business, trade and investment location.

Germany wants to implement “a variety of effective and ambitious measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions” and help “preserve the foundation for life on Earth”, the draft paper said.

How will Germany tackle climate change?

Measures listed would tackle emissions in the energy and industrial sectors as well as in housing, transport, agriculture, waste management and the state apparatus itself.

The government aims to step up subsidies for the purchase of zero-emission electric vehicles and expand the country's still under-developed electric car charging infrastructure.

It would also raise tax incentives for making buildings more energy efficient and promote alternative fuels, local public transport and climate-friendly freight transport.

READ ALSO: Protests against German car industry draw 25,000

The two coalition parties are currently unresolved on how to better price harmful carbon emissions from oil, gas and coal into economic activity in order to incentivize clean alternatives.

While Merkel's party wants to expand the trading of emission certificates, the Social Democrats have called for a carbon tax.

Merkel's government will announce its plan on the day expected to see the biggest international wave of climate strikes yet by the Fridays for Future movement and the hundreds of civic groups that support it.

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CHRISTMAS

Strikes hit Amazon in Germany in the run up to Christmas

Around 2,500 Amazon employees at seven sites across Germany were on strike on Tuesday and unions warned stoppages could continue up to Christmas.

Amazon parcel in factory
A parcel rolls along a conveyor belt at an Amazon packing facility in Gera, Thuringia. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Bodo Schackow

The strikes at so-called “fulfilment” centres, where Amazon prepares packages before delivery, began in two locations on Monday.

The Verdi union is calling on Amazon for an “immediate” salary increase of three percent this year, followed by a further 1.7 percent next year, in line with a collective agreement for the retail sector, to which the e-commerce giant does not adhere.

Amazon could not continue to “refuse wage increases that other companies in the sector pay”, Verdi retail head Orhan Akman said in a statement Monday.

Amazon, which operates 17 centres in Germany, argues it is a logistics company, a sector in which the terms of work are considered to be less burdensome for the employer.

Amazon said it did not expect the strike to have an impact on clients.

However, a Verdi spokesman said the stoppage could cause disruption, particularly in Amazon’s rapid-delivery “Prime” offering.

Strikes were likely to continue “until the end of the year”, the spokesman said, impacting on the busy Christmas shopping period.

READ ALSO: 

Verdi, which first called for strikes at Amazon in May 2013, organised demonstrations outside the fulfilment centres on Tuesday to protest poor working conditions.

Amazon — which has seen its business boom during the coronavirus pandemic as consumers increasingly shopped online — announced in September that it would open eight new centres in Germany, creating 3,000 jobs by 2022.

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