carbon crunch

Man in the Middle

Gabriel sea winmills dpa
Searching for alternative solutions in the energy debate.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany’s ambitious energy transition hinges on cleaner renewable energy. But damage to traditional industries like mining looms.

  • Facts


    • Unions and the energy industry say a climate tax would make operating brown coal power stations unprofitable.
    • Sources say the economics minister met with representatives from unions, companies and German states to discuss how the energy sector could reduce carbon emissions by another 22 million tons – without a climate tax.
    • The union for the mining, chemical and energy industries called for expanding power-heat coupling, increasing capacity reserves and promoting more efficiency in the heat market.
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Germany’s economy minister seems to be stuck between a rock and a hard place over climate change.

Pressure from German states, businesses and labor unions last week forced Sigmar Gabriel, the country’s deputy chancellor and head of the economy and energy ministry, to partially back down on a controversial new climate tax that was seen as overly burdensome to the economy.

But now his new, more limited plans to tackle the carbon emissions from power plants have instead drawn the ire of the country’s powerful green lobby, a traditional ally.

These are difficult times for Mr. Gabriel, who has struggled over the past year to curry favor with business without alienating his own political base. The chairman of the center-left Social Democratic Party, the SPD, the junior member of a governing coalition under Chancellor Angela Merkel, can’t seem to please anybody at the moment.

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