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German industry against greater EU climate efforts

BERLIN, May 25 (UPI) -- The German industry has lashed out against a plan by the European Commission to boost Europe's climate protection efforts.

Germany's two biggest industry associations said they are against boosting the European Union's carbon dioxide emissions reduction target from 20 percent to 30 percent compared to 1990 levels.

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"The German industry -- probably like no other in the world -- commits itself to climate protection," Werner Schnappauf, the head of the German BDI industry association, told Tuesday's Berliner Zeitung newspaper. "However, the BDI strongly opposes a unilateral tightening of the EU climate targets."

Martin Wansleben, the head of the DIHK industry association added that Europe "can't afford costly solo attempts."

The EU has committed itself to reduce its CO2 levels by 20 percent until 2020 and boosted that target to 30 percent if the world's other major emitters -- the United States and leading emerging economies such as India and China -- come together for a binding climate protection deal.

Such a deal failed to emerge from a U.N. climate summit in Denmark last year and it looks unlikely to be drafted this December when world nations meet again in Cancun, Mexico.

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The EU has nevertheless signaled it wants to boost its bloc-wide CO2 reduction target to revive the deadlocked climate negotiations and drive the price for carbon certificates.

Industrialized and developing nations are still at odds over how to limit the global temperature rise to no more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. A rise beyond that limit would result in potentially catastrophic consequences for humanity, with meteorological disasters increasing, scientists say.

Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard earlier this month said that due to the global economic downturn, the EU would need to spend only one-third of the costs originally envisaged to achieve the 20 percent cut, and for an extra $14 billion could jump to 30 percent.

Hedegaard, who was in charge of the Copenhagen climate summit, said the stricter cuts are also needed to drive up the price for carbon -- currently at less than $19 per ton.

"With business as usual and the 20 percent target we will not see a substantially higher price of carbon. That is a challenge because we need innovation," she was quoted as saying by British newspaper The Guardian. "At around $38 people would start to do things differently."

Hedegaard said she will unveil a study Wednesday that details those financials.

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The plan is backed by Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen, who argues that the German industry, known for its efficient engineers and machinery, would benefit from more ambitious reduction targets.

The German industry doesn't buy that argument.

It is concerned that companies in regions with laxer emissions targets will have a competitive advantage. Moreover, it says, a boosted target would come at the worst time.

"In times when entire industries have bigger problems than ever, any additional burden threatens the recovery," Schnappauf told the newspaper.

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