Gabriel welcomed the agreement on emissions trading reached within the federal government. 'We clearly agreed that starting in 2013, 100 percent of all emissions allowances needed for electricity generation will be auctioned. There will be no exceptions for new power plants – and no subsidies for construction. In this way we prevent energy utilities from making windfall profits without rendering a service. The companies have already passed on 100 percent of the costs to their customers although they are currently receiving 90 percent of emissions allowances free of charge.'
The Federal Environment Minister added that the first and foremost aim of international climate protection negotiations was to create equal competition opportunities for enterprises. 'As long as companies in Europe have to adhere to stricter climate protection requirements than, for example, their competitors in China, we have to find special solutions. Driving enterprises out of Germany will not reduce CO2 emissions. Therefore, we advocate that in particular carbon intensive industrial sectors which compete internationally should continue to receive the necessary allowances free of charge beyond 2013.' By allocating free emission allowances, the German government wants to compensate companies that hardly produce CO2 emissions but which have high energy consumption rates, for example aluminium smelters or electric steel plants, for their disadvantage in international competition. In future, free allocations will be based on the most environmentally friendly technology. 'We will only be successful in international negotiations if we show that climate protection and economic growth are compatible', said Gabriel.
With its current budget draft the German government clearly makes renewable energies and energy efficiency key issues of its agenda. The funds for the Federal Environment Ministry's climate protection initiative will increase by 60 million to 460 million euro in 2009. Of this sum, 120 million euro are earmarked once more for international measures in the following year. The volume of the market incentive programme, which supports the use of renewable energies in the heat sector, will be raised to more than 400 million euro; in 2005 in real figures only 130 million euro were available for that purpose.
The total budget of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) in 2009 will be 1.32 billion euro. This is around 477.2 million euro (about 56 percent) more than in 2008. And the BMU budget is only a share of the federal government's spending on environmental protection. Expenditures of a total of around 5.5 billion euro are earmarked for environmental protection in the federal budget 2009.