Climate protection: come on, let’s found a club

A, B, C – this federal government is now spelling climate protection in English. A like ambitious: Because the undertaking should be ambitious. B like bold: really bold. And C like cooperative – otherwise it wouldn’t be a club. This is exactly what it says in the key points that the Federal Cabinet passed in one of its last meetings before the Bundestag election. Germany founds a club – an alliance of states for climate protection. “Access to the club must be open at all times when appropriate climate protection goals and measures are introduced,” says the key points. The USA and China in particular should join in, but so should other industrialized countries.

The idea itself is not new, it goes back to the US economist and Nobel Prize winner William Nordhaus. In 2015, he proposed such a club to counteract free-riding in international climate protection: namely, that individual countries do not do much against global warming and leave the climate-friendly conversion to others – which ultimately makes climate protection a competitive disadvantage for those who take it seriously. The club members should therefore agree on a common CO₂ price – and demand punitive tariffs from those who are not in the club. In March the Scientific Advisory Board of the Federal Ministry of Economics took up this idea and recommended that the EU found such a club. And then Olaf Scholz discovered the project.

In May, the SPD candidate for Chancellor presented the idea at a meeting of finance ministers of the G20, after which he pushed the key points for the club in the federal cabinet. “Climate change cannot be tackled nationally or at a European level,” says Scholz. That is why one now wants to found the club, “for everyone who goes ahead with ambitious goals”.

“Germany as Treasurer”

The members should therefore commit themselves to “increased efforts” in order to limit global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius. They should strive for climate neutrality by 2050, “if possible earlier”. Together they should take care of the restructuring of industries. The key points, however, see a so-called border adjustment, with which CO₂-heavy imports from non-members can be made more expensive, only as a “possibility”.

Whether the push under this administration will turn out to be much more a month before the election is another question. The next opportunity to recruit members for the club is the G-20 summit in Rome. But that will not take place until the end of October, the federal government is only executive in office. Meanwhile, the industry is already mocking whether there are any members. The idea is good, according to the chemical association VDI. “But currently only the EU as board member and Germany as treasurer have been determined.”

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