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NRW pioneers climate change bill in Germany

NRW pioneers climate change bill in Germany
Flag of North Rhine-Westphalia

North Rhine-Westphalia is Germany’s first state to adopt a pioneering climate change bill, setting legally-binding greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

The state, the most populous in Germany with four of the country's ten largest cities, is now committed to cut its emissions by 25 percent by 2020 and by at least 80 percent by 2050, compared to 1990 levels.

“We are now at the Climate Change Bill, one of the most important projects of the coalition agreement. The law is a milestone for climate protection and provides the basis for the energy strategy of the future,” said NRW Climate Minister Johannes Remmel.

A roadmap, setting up steps by which these emission reduction targets will be achieved, is being developed. A consultation process, including over 160 representatives from different industries is currently being undertaken and the “Climate Protection Plan” will eventually be adopted in Parliament.

“The creation of the Climate Protection Plan is one of the most comprehensive and largest consultation processes in the German climate and energy policy. This differentiates us from the backroom politics of the federal government,” noted Mr. Remmel.

The first Climate Protection Plan will be presented in 2013 and will be subject to review and updates every five years.

An expert Advisory Council has also been put in place to ensure compliance with the climate goals and to monitor the development of the Climate Protection Plan.

According to Mr. Remmel, North Rhine-Westphalia has an important role to play in achieving climate change targets in the European Union, given that the state accounts for about one third of the total greenhouse gases emissions in Germany, nearly 30 percent of the electricity demand in the Federal Republic and around a quarter of Germany’s final energy of the West German industrial electricity.

In addition, the state also sees the new climate change bill as a means to advance its economy by preventing losses associated with natural disasters. If no mitigation efforts are taken, extreme weather events will cost NRW tens of billions by 2050, estimated the German Institute for Economic Research.

"We want to make ambitious climate protection while strengthening the local economy,” said Mr. Remmel. - C. Dominguez

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