Agreement on the climate package by christmas?

The mediation committee of the bundestag and bundesrat wants to pass the federal government’s climate package before christmas. At its first meeting this evening in berlin, it set up a working group that is to begin its deliberations as early as this tuesday morning.

As the two negotiators from the states and the bundestag, mecklenburg-western pomerania’s minister president manuela schwesig (SPD) and the vice chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group hermann grohe (CDU), announced after the meeting, the main aim is to achieve a fair distribution of the burden between the federal government and the states, while at the same time easing the burden on the citizens of germany.

Of the four individual climate laws in the government package, three have already been passed by the bundestag and bundesrat. In several tax projects of the climate package, the chamber of land called the mediation committee. The countries want a different distribution of revenues and burdens. On the part of the state, the loss of revenue of up to 2.5 billion euros was cited and it was pointed out that the federal government at the same time had revenue from CO2 pricing.

Among other things, the issue is a reduction in the value-added tax on long-distance train tickets and a demand for the energy-efficient renovation of residential buildings – both of which the coalition plans to bring into force at the beginning of 2020. Lower saxony’s minister president stephan weil (SPD) said on behalf of the SPD’s state side that this fourth climate bill included relief for citizens.

Both schwesig and grohe are open about whether the CO2 price could be brought up again during the negotiations, even though it has already been passed by both the bundestag and the bundesrat. Now there could be a kind of political decision on this issue. The CO2 price is to start at 10 euros per tonne in 2021 and increase in subsequent years. But many think this is too low. The new SPD leadership, among others, had expressed a need to talk about the entry price. Weil said that if the issue of the CO2 price were to be raised again in the mediation committee, it would not be possible to reach a negotiated result this year.

The greens have doubts that citizens will receive adequate relief from the climate package. Grunen faction leader anton hofreiter said on monday evening before the start of deliberations in the mediation committee that the grand coalition had created a CO2 price "that is ecologically ineffective and socially unjust, because only 30 percent of the money collected is redistributed to citizens". In addition, this is legally questionable.

Hofreiter went on to criticize the coalition for producing chaos. On the one hand, he said, the SPD in the bundesrat had prevented "us from being able to talk fundamentally about the CO2 price. On the other hand, various representatives of the coalition have made it clear that it is still possible to talk about the CO2 price. "We were happy to talk about it. However, the grand coalition had to move to do this."

The greens wanted a fast-track procedure to ensure that building renovation would be advanced in a climate-effective way and that the value-added tax on rail tickets would be reduced quickly. Previously, hofreiter had told dpa that the planned increase in the commuter allowance was "unsocial and ecologically counterproductive". Instead, electricity prices should be lowered more sharply.

Schwesig rejects claims that citizens were charged more than they got back. The federal government has estimated a moderate CO2 price. Now it’s a matter of compensating for the commuter allowance.

CSU leader markus soder, speaking in munich, rejected higher CO2 prices or other measures that burden citizens unless there is compensation for them. "There is a clear constitutional requirement: it’s about all the money issues. But it’s not about things like speed limits and the like more."A full-blown unraveling of the package is not feasible.

NRW minister president armin laschet (CDU), on the other hand, was open to talks with the SPD about a higher CO2 price. This is unavoidable, he said, simply because the gruns are involved in many state governments.

Like hofreiter, grunen leader robert habeck said the coalition alone has the power to raise the CO2 price. The CDU- and SPD-led states had voted against a motion by the state of baden-wurttemberg in the bundesrat to raise the issue of the levy in the state chamber.

Saarland’s minister president tobias hans (CDU) warned against excessive increases in the price of CO2 at the expense of citizens. When asked if the union would test the possibility of a black-green coalition in the committee, the CDU presidium member told dpa: the greens had to prove that they were willing to find compromises and not just make maximum demands.

FDP parliamentary party leader marco buschmann argued that germany needs a fresh start on climate policy. A cross-party climate consensus was needed that would show a path for reconciling climate goals and affordability. The federal government’s climate package was not suitable for this purpose. There is also the danger that it will become even more expensive in the mediation process. Because the federal government will probably buy the consent of the lander with a lot of money.