Environmental and energy policies is expected to achieve its ecological objectives at the lowest possible cost and without creating social problems.
Despite the turnaround in energy policy announced by the last Government, Germany will continue to need fossil fuels for some considerable time to come.
Green Economy is a new model of economic development. Its aim is to manage the economy in harmony with nature and the environment.
To counteract climate change, emissions of carbon dioxide must fall significantly. Climate protection may be expensive but the alternative –doing nothing now and gradually adapting to the eventual consequences of climate change – would be considerably more expensive.
Yet even the best climate policy is to no avail if practised by only some countries. Europe, and certainly Germany, are much too small to limit climate change on their own. Going it alone also carries the risk that industries will move to countries which do not restrict their emissions. For this reason, not only the industrialised but also threshold and developing countries should commit to CO2 reduction.
More than 70 per cent of fossil-based sources of energy – oil, gas and coal – originate abroad. German companies also import many of the metals needed in industry.
In the last two decades, passenger traffic in Germany has doubled and freight traffic actually trebled. Transport infrastructure, however, has long been suffering serious neglect.
Despite the growth in traffic, carbon dioxide emissions from road vehicles have recently fallen below the 1990 level. Technical progress has lowered the average fuel consumption of motor vehicles considerably. Changing the basis of road tax from engine capacity to carbon dioxide emissions will promote this development. By contrast, the European Commission’s CO2 limit for new cars makes less sense. Nor are regulations making the addition of organic fuels compulsory an effective way of curbing emissions of the greenhouse gas.
Instead of prescribing in detail how vehicles’ CO2 emissions are to be reduced by technical means, the emission of CO2 itself should be taxed. Motorists could then decide for themselves how to respond: by buying thriftier cars, driving less or making alternative savings.