German Greens heed leadership warning against steeper CO2 price hikes
By Holger Hansen
BERLIN (Reuters) - The leaders of Germany's Greens on Friday put down a push by party members for a steeper increase to the CO2 levy after warning that an aggressive approach to reducing emissions could put off voters before a general election in September.
On the first day of a party convention to approve their election programme, a majority of delegates voted against the motion to increase the CO2 levy on oil and gas beyond the 60 euros in 2023 proposed by the ecologist party's leadership.
After for weeks running neck-and-neck in polls with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives the Greens have fallen eight points behind to about 20%.
The drop has been blamed on an unreported party bonus scandal by chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock who has also alarmed some voters with a pledge to increase the price of petrol, which would mainly hurt low-earners in rural areas.
"The right way to achieve effective climate protection is also about bringing on board a large section of society," said co-leader Robert Habeck. "If we go too fast and too hard we will lose both the energy transformation project and the people."
The motion was rejected by 473 votes to 219.
Merkel's conservatives and their Social Democrat (SPD) junior partners introduced a carbon levy for transport and heating fuels, starting with 25 euros per tonne of CO2, this year. Current plans would see it rise to 55-65 euros per tonne of CO2 by 2026 but most parties have said a more ambitious path is necessary to reach new climate targets.
Delegates also rejected a motion by party members to lower the speed limit on country roads, heeding a warning by the leadership that this would put off commuters who would have to spend more time to and from work.
(Writing by Joseph Nasr; editing by David Evans)