Germany risks missing 2030 climate targets

BERLIN (AP) — German officials urged environmental activists to engage in “constructive” protests and avoid putting lives at risk on Friday, as government-appointed experts warned the key country European Union was in danger of missing its climate targets for 2030.

A heated debate has erupted over activists’ methods after roadblocks caused by a protest on Monday prevented a specialist rescue team from reaching a cyclist fatally injured in a traffic accident in Berlin. Some German media said protesters “shared responsibility” for the woman’s death.

Climate activists have also been criticized for glueing themselves to a dinosaur exhibit, throwing food at valuable paintings and spraying paint at political party offices.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz “supports any democratic commitment, and we have repeatedly underlined this in the context of the climate protests,” Wolfgang Buechner, the Chancellor’s spokesman, told reporters. “But the form of protest we are seeing now, this week in particular, is neither effective nor constructive.”

Buechner noted that Scholz emphasized on Monday that protests should not endanger other people.

“People’s lives should not be put at risk, and so we do not accept this form of protest,” Buechner said, calling instead for protests that unite society to work for faster climate change.

The Chancellor’s spokesman insisted that climate protection was “the central concern” of the German government and said it was already working hard on “ambitious” policy goals.

“Our goal is very clear: We as the German government as a whole want to implement an effective climate policy, and we say this clearly with our determination to act,” he said.

Europe’s largest economy wants to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 65% below 1990 levels by 2030 and has plans in place to sharply increase renewable energy generation while by phasing out fossil fuels.

But the government’s own advisers on Friday cast doubt on Germany’s ability to meet the target, saying the country needed to cut emissions twice as fast as the annual average for the past decade. In some sectors, such as industry and transport, the cuts should be 10 times higher or more, the five-member panel said.

Its president, Hans-Martin Henning of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, said Germany’s efforts to improve energy efficiency were being negated by higher consumption, such as that of larger homes and increased mobility.

The panel’s findings are a blow to Germany’s green credentials ahead of this year’s UN climate talks in Egypt, which begin next week.

Faced with an energy shortage following Russia’s war on Ukraine, the German government announced its intention to reactivate old oil and coal-fired power plants, import more liquefied natural gas and to extract more coal from its own mines, angering climate activists.

The government insists that the measures are temporary and that the global shift to clean energy will be accelerated. On Thursday, Germany signed a preliminary agreement to buy more natural gas from Egypt and to help the North African nation develop hydrogen production facilities.

Germany has also tried to offset its own historically high emissions by helping countries that now bear the brunt of the impacts of global warming. The government said on Friday it would provide Peru about 352 million euros ($345 million) to help the Latin American nation improve its public transport system and tackle deforestation in the Amazon.

Activists from the group Uprising of the Last Generation, which organized the museum protests and roadblocks, expressed sadness over the deaths of the cyclists on Friday, but said they would continue to demonstrate until the government German is doing enough to fight the climate crisis.

The German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung quoted on Friday a confidential report from the emergency doctor at the scene of the accident according to which the late arrival of the specialized crew did not change the medical treatment of the victim.

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