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Sunday 18 August 2019

Greens signal softer line ahead of coalition talks with Angela Merkel's party

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel

The leaders of Germany's Green party have signalled they may drop demands for a 2030 deadline to phase out combustion engines and shut coal-fired power stations as Angela Merkel's government-building efforts intensify.

The Chancellor's conservative group, the pro-business Free Democrats and the Greens want to determine by mid-November whether there is enough common ground for full negotiations on a coalition never tried in national government.

They struggled to bridge differences during initial talks.

Greens co-leader Cem Ozdemir said in an interview with the daily Stuttgarter Zeitung that his party will soften its demand, much criticised by its prospective partners, to stop registering new cars with petrol or diesel engines in 2030.

"It is clear to me that we alone will not be able to push through the cut-off date of 2030 for the registration of fossil-fuel combustion engines," he was quoted as saying, adding: "We must of course clear the way for emissions-free mobility with binding measures."

The party has also called for coal-fired electricity plants, a significant source of energy for Europe's biggest economy, to be shut by 2030, but chairwoman Simone Peter told the Rheinische Post daily the party is "pragmatic" on "whether the last coal-fired power station goes offline in 2030 or 2032", and that the key is reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Germany, which is hosting a global conference on combating climate change, will miss its own emissions reduction targets unless further measures are taken, officials say.

The Greens' comments increase pressure on other parties to make concessions. There has been little sign of movement so far, with Free Democrat leaders in particular saying they are not afraid of new elections.

Polls suggest a new vote would not create a parliament much different from the one elected in September. In that election, the nationalist and anti-immigration Alternative for Germany, or AfD, emerged as the third-biggest party.

"We in AfD are not afraid - we would be very glad of new elections, because apparently none of the other parties is capable of fulfilling the task set by voters and forming a sensible governing coalition," co-leader Alice Weidel said.


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