BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s environment minister said Friday that a proposed charge on carbon emissions should benefit people on low incomes and those who use less fossil fuel, amid concern that measures aimed at curbing climate change could stoke social unrest.

The German government is debating whether to put a price on carbon to help meet national targets for cutting man-made greenhouse gas emissions, which are blamed for global warming.

Several other countries already have or plan to introduce such a tax, including France, Britain and much of Scandinavia. Experts says that a surcharge for carbon dioxide emissions can encourage people to use less fuel, but risks hitting the poor more heavily than the rich. Plans to raise fuel duty in France contributed to months of anti-government protests by workers fearing financial hardship.

“It’s really important to me to avoid unfairly burdening those with low and medium incomes, and especially affected groups such as commuters and tenants,” said Svenja Schulze, Germany’s environment minister.

Speaking at the presentation of three independent expert studies commissioned by her office, Schulze insisted the funds generated from a carbon charge on transport and heating fuel would be redistributed again.

The three studies all assumed an initial charge of $39.50 per metric ton of CO2, rising to 180 euros by 2030.

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