Is Germany’s Merkel full of hot air?
At the U.N. Biodiversity Conference in Bonn, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is being hailed as something of a hero. In what could be seen as an attempt to salvage both the talks and her own reputation as a champion of the environment, she announced millions of euros in handouts to help save the planet’s forests.
Campaigners fell over themselves praising her for setting an example. The physicist and former environment minister won credit last year for helping to broker EU and G8 deals to tackle climate change and some close to her insist the subject is close to her heart.
But there is a different story.
Merkel is backpeddling on a wide range of green issues at home as political reality bites. She is robustly defending the powerful German car industry — responsible for one in five jobs in Europe’s biggest economy — against the EU’s planned CO2 caps and her government this week all but dropped plans to change a tax regime on cars that would have encouraged lower emissions.
She is backing energy-intensive companies against the auctioning of CO2 emissions permits and her conservative party has just unveiled plans to cut subsidies for solar energy by 30 percent in 2009.
What do you think? Is Merkel a real champion of the environment or is she all talk?