Today, the new federal government is taking part in the EU Environment Council in Brussels for the first time. The Environment Council is comprised of ministers responsible for environmental and climate issues. Germany will be represented with a stronger voice here in the future, with two federal ministers now in the Council. Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke is responsible for climate change adaptation, resource conservation and environmental protection issues and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Robert Habeck is responsible for climate action issues.

Steffi Lemke commented: “I am looking forward to the Environment Council and the important issues which I can ambitiously pursue here at European level.” State Secretary Dr Patrick Graichen is attending the EU Environment Council in Brussels today on behalf of Federal Minister Robert Habeck.

The ministers are today discussing, among other things, several legislative proposals in the Fit for 55 package, which the Commission presented in July and which since then is being discussed in the Council. The debate will focus on the five dossiers under the responsibility of the Environment Council: the EU emissions trading (EU ETS) reform, the EU regulation on binding annual greenhouse gas emission reductions by member states from 2021 to 2030 (Effort Sharing Regulation), the EU regulation on land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), CO2 standards for cars and light commercial vehicles and the Social Climate Fund. The so-called orientation debate at today’s meeting serves to facilitate a further exchange of overall positions without seeking decisions.

State Secretary Dr Patrick Graichen emphasised: “Germany supports the European Commission proposals on the Fit for 55 Package. In our view, it is important that we quickly create planning certainty with regard to climate action. We should therefore make as much progress as possible in the next six months in the negotiations on the Fit for 55 dossiers. We want to achieve climate action and sustainable prosperity. In this context, we see the European Green Deal and the Fit for 55 package as a key framework that paves the way for innovation and measures for putting the EU economy on the path towards 1.5 degrees.

Germany supports, for example, the European Commission’s plans to strengthen the existing emissions trading system (EU ETS) and is advocating an ambitious reform at EU level, including the extension to the buildings and transport sectors. In our view, emissions trading at EU level with a minimum price of 60 euros per tonne is also key for our goal to complete the coal phase out in Germany by 2030. It is therefore important to significantly strengthen emissions trading, especially in view of the EU climate targets.”

In the part of the Council meeting dedicated to environmental issues, ministers will discuss the status of negotiations on the batteries regulation — the EU Commission will present a progress report on this. The regulation, which includes provisions on batteries in electric cars, e-bikes and scooters, is to be adopted in the next year and will regulate their entire life cycle. The main objective is to align battery production, use and recycling with strict environmental and climate criteria.

Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke commented: “As key energy storage for renewable energy, batteries are the core component of electric mobility. However, they will only be widely accepted when they are environmentally and climate-compatible and all their properties are transparent. Consistent sustainability from raw materials and production right through to recycling must therefore be our primary goal, while respecting human and labour rights at all stages of production. These are our requirements for the design of the EU batteries regulation.”

For the first time, the batteries regulation will introduce a digital product passport that will contain important information on the production and properties of the batteries as well as their environmental performance. This information should be easily accessible to both businesses and consumers.

Another topic on the agenda of the Council meeting is the new “EU Soil Strategy for 2030 — Reaping the benefits of healthy soils for people, food, nature and climate”. In addition, the European Commission will explain how it plans to implement the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy. Key measures to achieve this are part of the Commission proposal on deforestation-free supply chains. Around 90% of global deforestation is connected to the extraction of agricultural commodities and the associated creation of new agricultural land.

Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke explained: “The destruction of nature has risen globally, fertile soils are dwindling and many forests are in critical condition. At the same time, deforestation is advancing at a rapid pace. Our political actions must therefore centre on protecting and reclaiming important natural areas. The EU Biodiversity Strategy offers a great opportunity to do this. Intact forests are essential for climate action and the preservation of global biodiversity, and they provide livelihoods for countless people. Continued deforestation for the extraction of palm oil and other agricultural raw materials should therefore be halted quickly. In particular, Western countries with comparatively large resource consumption have a duty to take action here."