>> A potential embarrassment for Chancellor Angela Merkel in talks to form Germany's next government. Her Conservatives and the center-left Social Democrats have agreed to drop an ambitious plan to lower carbon dioxide emissions, negotiators say. The would-be coalition partners have agreed that a 40% cut from 1990 levels isn't feasible by 2020.
The parties would still aim to hit the target in the early 2020s, and want to stick to other ambitious plans on climate change, such as ditching coal fired energy by the end of the year. Still, it's something of a u-turn by Merkel, an advocate for climate protection on the international stage.
But reviving her so-called grand coalition with the Social Democrats, Is seen as her best chance of securing a fourth term in office. The September election weakened both partners. And Merkel's first attempt to form a coalition with two smaller parties failed in November leaving a void at the top.
Merkel says she's optimistic this time round. And the two sides have already agreed on income tax relief for high earners. But the five day preliminary talks could hit other snags with the two camps likely to clash on immigration, healthcare and Europe.