(Reuters Breakingviews) – If Angela Merkel is cooling on climate change, the world is in trouble. The German chancellor has been a formidable force in the fight against man-made global warming. In 2015 she pushed the leaders of the G7, a rich-country club, into a historic pledge to stop using fossil fuels by the end of this century. Later that year, she helped to broker the Paris agreement to limit the global temperature rise to below two degrees.
Yet at home, Merkel’s climate-change zeal is running out of steam. Despite months of acrimonious strife, Merkel’s centre-left coalition has not agreed on how to meet the Paris goals. A first draft of an ambitious Climate Change Action plan, proposed by Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks six months ago, has been watered down. For example, a hard deadline for phasing out coal plants, and an aim of making most new cars battery-powered by 2030, have both been dropped.
Europe’s largest economy by GDP was already behind schedule. It runs the risk of missing a goal of lowering emissions in 2020 by 40 percent relative to 1990. Emissions would have had to come down by almost a fifth within the next three years. Yet despite heavy subsidies for green power, they have barely moved over the last five years. In 2015 they even rose slightly.