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In Bali, Germany takes dramatic step on climate change

The country adopts legislation Wednesday to cut emissions 36 percent as delegates hammer out a post-Kyoto treaty.

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This week, delegates from more than 180 countries are gathered in Bali for a United Nations-sponsored conference, where they will try to hash out a road map for a post-Kyoto climate treaty. Meanwhile, Germany is forging ahead and adopting what experts here say is the most comprehensive climate-protection package ever enacted worldwide.

Using a raft of measures – many aimed at boosting energy efficiency or cultivating renewable energy sources – the nation plans to reduce heat-trapping gases by 36 percent from 1990 levels by the year 2020.

By adopting the plan Wednesday, Germany aims to influence the negotiations.

"We hope that the example set by our decisions will be followed and that we come together internationally to implement ambitious climate goals," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday in her weekly podcast.

But at home the plan has gotten mixed reviews, particularly from environmental groups and climate scientists who say there are crucial gaps that reflect larger contradictions in the nation's policies.

Germany has made bold strides in the fight against climate change and is one of only three European nations on track to meet its Kyoto obligations.

Yet it is one of the continent's heaviest coal users, and its legendary auto industry has mounted stiff resistance against toughening emissions standards for cars.

Focal point of its foreign policy

Since Germany' Mrs. Merkel became chancellor two years ago, Germany has made global warming a focal point of its foreign policy. It was during the nation's European Union presidency that member nations pledged last March to cut heat-trapping gasses by 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

On the domestic front, the new climate program is the most far-reaching legislative package on any issue that Germany's grand coalition government has adopted.

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