EU’s green plans torn apart as Germany’s climate minister breaks ranks to defy Brussels

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Speaking in Brussels on Monday during a meeting of the EU’s Environment Council, Patrick Graichen, a top-level official in Germany’s environment ministry, criticised EU plans regarding a carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM). The CBAM is a climate measure that will put a carbon price on imports of a specific selection of products like cement, steel, aluminium, fertilisers.

The aim of this mechanism is to ensure that ambitious climate action in Europe does not lead to “carbon leakage”.

Mr Graichen, the former chief of the environmental think-tank, Agora Energiewende, expressed his concerns about the EU’s proposed CBAM.

He explained that the proposal as it currently stands does not provide a solution for exports.

He also stressed the need for the scheme to be compatible with World Trade Organisation rules.

Germany has previously butted heads with the European Commission over their climate plans last July, especially regarding the green taxonomy.

Europe is split over the possible classification of fossil gas and nuclear energy as “transitional” activities under certain conditions.

In July, Germany led five other countries and signed a letter to the European Commission demanding that nuclear energy be kept out of the EU’s green finance taxonomy.

Austria even went as far as threatening to take the Commission to the EU Court of Justice if they went ahead with the decision.

This was met with fierce opposition, particularly from a bloc of twelve countries led by France who supported the inclusion of nuclear energy into the green financing scheme.

The meeting in Brussels also saw Germany’s new environment minister make her debut spoke about forest protection and mitigating the social impact of high energy prices and the green transition.

Speaking to journalists ahead of the meeting, she said: “Forest protection is absolutely crucial for achieving climate protection targets, but also biodiversity targets.

“It is clear that both crises need to be resolved. Nobody benefits from playing one against the other.

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“We will renaturalise peatland, create more natural forests, store more water as a precaution against droughts, and thus protect and strengthen biodiversity.”

Mr Graichen also discussed the EU’s “fit for 55” package, which is a set of their legislative climate proposals.

He said: “From our point of view, it is important that we quickly create planning security for climate protection.

“We should therefore make as much progress as possible in the negotiations on the ‘Fit for 55’ dossiers in the coming six months.”

Back when he was the chief of a think tank, it wrote “The new federal government has the task of helping to shape the [Fit for 55] dossiers through ambitious positioning so that they deliver fast and effective climate protection.”

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