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Germany leads the world in cutting GHG emissions


Where there’s political will, there’s a way. Perhaps the Iraq war is evidence enough of this truism, but imagine if the same commitment were applied to abating climate change. Well, one country did just that today. Germany - the world’s sixth largest emitter of greenhouse gases – approved the most aggressive set of greenhouse gas cuts by any government. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet signed off on measures that will reduce emissions to 36 percent of 1990 levels by 2020. The package still awaits parliamentary approval, but there’s little concern of it failing to pass.

One of the 14 new laws commits to obtaining 30 percent of the country’s energy needs from renewable sources. Another will enforce efficiency in home heating.  An additional 15 measures will come up for vote in May 2008. 

Germany is responsible for roughly 3 percent of the world’s total CO2 emissions and the new plan hopes to eliminate some 220 million tons of the stuff in the next 12 years. 

"Sustainability means that we cannot simply go on as we have been doing. To live well we do not need to consume ever more resources and ever more energy," the Chancellor said in her speech this morning. “Sustainability does not automatically mean renouncing all pleasures of modern life and reverting to asceticism. It does, however, mean looking for a new quality of life, for still untested economic opportunities.”

Germany intends to spend some $4.8 billion on the effort. According to the Congressional Research Service, the US was spending roughly $10 billion a month on the Iraq War as of August 2007.

Clearly Germany timed its announcement with and to set a bar for the big climate change meeting currently underway in Bali, which we’ve written about here and here. Like the Little Engine that Could (converted to electric, of course), we say to the UNFCCC delegates, “We think you can! We think you can!”