Merkel, defense minister double up on flights to US after climate deal

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Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel | Bertrand Guay/AFP via Getty Images

The pair was originally slated to travel together, according to German media.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her defense minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, will fly separately to the U.S. Sunday, just days after launching a wide-ranging climate plan aimed at curbing carbon emissions.

Merkel will fly to the U.N. Climate Summit in New York from Tegel Airport in Berlin at around 3:30 p.m along with a delegation of around 55 people on her government jet, according to Bild am Sonntag.

Kramp-Karrenbauer will leave for Washington D.C., where she is slated to meet her American counterpart Mark Esper, from the same airport less than an hour later, with around 15 passengers on board.

Several German outlets, including Spiegel, reported that the two politicians were initially expected to travel together on the outbound journey, and that Kramp-Karrenbauer had booked a separate commercial return trip as she’s scheduled to return to Germany on Monday, a day before Merkel.

“The additional flight is not only environmentally nonsensical, but is also a waste of tax money,” Tobias Lindner, a Green lawmaker in the Bundestag, told Spiegel.

A spokesperson from the chancellery told POLITICO that the “trips were planned independently.” The defense ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

On Friday, Merkel’s government’s unveiled a multibillion plan to slash CO2 emissions. The plan included pledges to raise airline taxes and put a stop to cheap flights, while also lowering value-added tax on rail tickets to foster growth in green transport.

A poll released Sunday said some 68 percent of Germans are in favor of higher tax on aviation, but only 34 percent reckon the measures set out in the government’s climate plan will help the fight against climate change.

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