German government passes $60 billion climate policy package

German government passes $60 billion climate policy package

The German government approved a 54 billion euro ($60 billion) package of initiatives aimed at tackling climate change on the same day 100,000 protesters filled the streets of Berlin for the Global Climate Strike.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has often called solving climate change a “vital question for humanity,” said that the agreement came after all-night talks with the country’s governing parties, according to The Associated Press.

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Germany’s overarching goal is to cut its emissions by 55 percent by 2030 from 1990 levels, the news agency reported.

The driving forces of the package are a new national emissions trading system that will place a monetary cost on carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas. Starting at 10 euros ($11.07) per ton in 2021, the price will eventually rise to 35 euros ($38.73) a ton by 2025.

Europe’s largest economy has lagged behind its fellow European countries in environmental protection despite a track record of being at the forefront of global climate policy, according to AP.

Germany is on track to miss its 2020 emissions goal. Currently, the country is ranked sixth in the world in greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 2.1 percent of the world’s emissions. 

A poll released Friday by ARD television showed that the majority of Germans believe climate policy reform should be the country’s main priority, with 63 percent of voters putting climate protection over economic growth, AP noted.

Merkel, who served as Germany’s environment minister during the first United Nations climate conference in 1995, will attend next week’s U.N. climate summit, where she is expected to make a speech Monday.