German students lay out climate policy demands

After several months of young people striking across Germany for more climate action, four representatives of the German “Fridays For Future” movement presented their central demands for the first time on Monday in Berlin.

Although German climate policy was in principle committed to the 1.5-degree target of the Paris Climate Agreement, the government had not been acting accordingly, the students argued during the presentation of their demands at a press conference in the Museum of Natural History in Berlin.

In order to meet the 1.5-degree temperature goal, the climate activists called on Germany to phase out coal by 2030. This would be eight years earlier than the date recommended by the German coal commission.

Germany should also acquire 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources and have “zero emissions” by 2035. The climate activists defined “net zero” as the amount of greenhouse gases emitted “that can be bound again by natural processes, such as the growth of plants”.

The German Ministry for the Environment (BMU) would “not evaluate the claims” made by the climate activists, a ministry spokesperson told Xinhua on Monday.

Germany looks set to miss its climate protection targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent compared with 1990 levels by 2020.

Recent figures from the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) showed that greenhouse gas emissions in Germany had declined by 30.6 percent in 2018 compared to 1990.

In the short-term, the “Fridays For Future” representatives called for a quarter of Germany’s coal-fired power plants to be shut down and subsidies for fossil fuels to be stopped by the end of 2019.

Germany should introduce a carbon dioxide (CO2) tax of 180 euros (202.4 U.S. dollars) per ton of CO2 on all greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the year.

While acknowledging that “these demands are ambitious”, the students stressed that “if we do not act decisively now, we will miss the 1.5 degrees Celsius target. The resulting damage will not be repairable”.