Marathon Merkel govt talks drag as climate deal proves elusive

BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel's government struggled Friday (Sep 20) to secure a deal on a broad climate plan for Germany despite overnight talks dragging over 16 hours, as protesters rallied in the streets demanding change.

The plan, which covers a slew of measures from tackling emissions in the energy and industrial sectors, to incentives for zero-emission electric vehicles or public transport, was due to be unveiled on Friday.



But after a marathon session through the night, Merkel and other political leaders were still deadlocked.

Urging patience, Lars Klingbeil, general secretary of Merkel's junior coalition partner the Social Democrats, said it was "better to negotiate for an extra hour and get an ambitious climate package in the end".

As politicians haggled indoors, outside in the streets across Germany, protesters were on the way with colourful banners and posters to join the biggest international wave of Fridays for Future climate strikes to date started by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg.

A major bridge in central Berlin was blocked off by demonstrators who strung red and white tape across the streets, hindering rush-hour traffic, while in the financial capital Frankfurt, sit-ins were underway.



After two blistering summers and thousands of youths joining school strikes week after week, climate has shot to the top of the political agenda in the EU's biggest economy.

For Merkel's coalition government, the stakes are also rising.

With the economy already projected to slide into recession in the third quarter, balancing the interests of its crucial export industries while not alienating young voters with their green demands was proving to be a tough balancing act.


The EU's biggest economy is set to miss climate targets for next year but has committed itself to meeting the 2030 goal of a 55 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels.

Export powerhouse Germany accounts for around two percent of the worldwide emissions blamed for heating the Earth's atmosphere, melting ice caps, rising sea levels and intensifying violent weather events.

Under a draft policy plan that Merkel's government was haggling over, a commitment of at least 100 billion euros (us$110 billion) was planned on climate protection by 2030.

But a key sticking point was the question of how to better price harmful carbon emissions from oil, gas and coal into economic activity in order to incentivise clean alternatives.

While Merkel's party wants to expand the trading of emission certificates, the Social Democrats, have called for a carbon tax.

Merkel, a scientist by profession, was once known as the "climate chancellor" as she pushed forward a green energy transition that vastly increased clean renewables such as wind and solar power.

However, many of those gains have been erod