German business favours emissions trading reveals study

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German companies have only a poor understanding of greenhouse gas emissions trading but they do not share the government's opposition to it, concludes a new study. The government, strongly backed by the lignite and coal industry, is opposed to EU proposals for a Europe-wide emissions trading market. One-third of companies surveyed are in favour of emissions trading with binding emissions limits; another third prefer emissions standards and energy efficiency regulations; while the remainder want Germany's existing system of voluntary pledges to be extended, with a tightening of targets and use of more effective sanctions when these are not met. Nearly half of the companies surveyed anticipate that emissions trading will be fiscally neutral, or a possible source of income, while only 39% believe it will add to their costs. Fifty out of about 400 energy intensive companies who would be obliged to participate in an EU emissions trading market responded to the survey by the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder revealed the possible shape of future renewable energy policy in Germany while attending the inauguration on September 9 of the world's most modern lignite power station, in Niederaussem. He was speaking just 13 days before the national election, which his Social Democratic SPD subsequently won. Schröder declared that "in the foreseeable future we'll no longer be able to cope with the [existing level of] support for renewable energies." He added that it was important not to neglect further development of traditional fossil fuel technologies. In view of his declared pact with the Green Party, however, it seems likely that Schröder was pandering to his lignite and coal audience rather than signalling fundamental changes to the renewables support system.

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