How do German stakeholder perceive an EU carbon border adjustment mechanism?

In Environmental Research Letters, Hertie School researchers identify divergent views on key design options for the EU carbon border adjustment mechanism among German stakeholder groups.

In a new study published in Environmental Research Letters, researchers from the Hertie School, including Ann-Kathrin Kühner, Professor of Sustainability Christian Flachsland, and Dr. Michael Jakob, find substantial support for a carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) among German stakeholders from industry, research, and civil society. 

The European Commission has proposed a carbon border adjustment mechanism in 2021 that would apply the carbon price prevailing in the EU emissions trading system to import-related emissions. The mechanism aims to avoid potential ‘carbon leakage’, the result of companies outsourcing their production to world regions with less ambitious climate goals to save costs. 

The authors conducted a survey to examine stakeholder responses to the  Commission's CBAM proposal, and in doing so, identified likely points of political difference. According to the authors, understanding the nuanced perceptions by key German stakeholders can help develop domestic compromise and solutions to disagreements. 

The survey design allowed authors to identify three cross-stakeholder group clusters. The first identified group, the "competitiveness" cluster, argued that a unilateral CBAM would isolate the EU and as a result is more hesitant towards its implementation. The "more ambitious climate policy" cluster had the highest level of unilateral support for a CBAM, whether or not a climate club or comparable carbon border adjustments were in place. The third cluster was identified as the "middle ground" group, and, as the name suggests, includes respondents with attitudes that fall in between the other groups.  

The researchers found that, while there were some tendencies for each stakeholder group (e.g. similarities between response patterns for industry stakeholders and respondents in the “competitiveness” cluster), each cluster contained a mix of stakeholders. This suggests the possibility of policy-specific coalitions across stakeholder groups. 

Regardless of potential points of contention, all three respondent clusters seem to accept and generally support the eventual implementation of the CBAM. According to the authors, “general support by key stakeholders may be conducive for the stability and coherence of the German governments' official position towards CBAM, even in the face of potential political resistance from key trading partners.”

Read the full paper in Environmental Research Letters here

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