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Germany Wants To Become World Leader In Energy Efficiency

German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel.
by Staff Writers
Berlin (AFP) April 26, 2007
Germany on Thursday unveiled proposals to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent within 13 years and become the most energy-efficient country in the world.

Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel called for additional investment of three billion euros (four billion dollars) to develop energy-saving technologies and said emissions permits for industry could be auctioned off rather than being given away for free.

The minister told the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, that Germany, Europe's biggest economy, needed to improve its energy efficiency performance by three percent a year in order to meet the EU target of reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 20 to 30 percent by 2020.

Gabriel said he wanted to enlist industry's help in chasing the more ambitious target of a 40-percent reduction in CO2, the principal greenhouse gas.

"We should set ourselves the goal of making Germany the most energy-efficient country in the world," he told MPs.

The action plan he presented foresees an 11-percent reduction in electricity use by 2020. Modernising power stations would create savings of 30 million tonnes of CO2, he said.

Gabriel told Bild newspaper on Thursday that he intended to make travel on the country's extensive rail network cheaper to entice passengers off short-haul flights.

"We must make sure that train services are able to compete with air travel," he said, explaining that rail tickets should qualify for a reduced rate of value-added, or sales, tax.

"There is no tax on airline fuel, but the rail operator must pay the full value-added tax on the sale of long-distance tickets. That is unfair and cannot remain that way," Gabriel said.

Value-added tax in Germany rose to 19 percent from 16 percent from January this year.

The domestic flight market in Germany is highly competitive and tickets often cost less than train fares for the same journey.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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