LEADERS of Germany’s Green party have signalled they may drop demands for a 2030 deadline to shut coal-fired power stations and phase out combustion engines, as Angela Merkel’s efforts to build a government intensify.

The Chancellor’s conservative group, the pro-business Free Democrats and the Greens want to determine by the middle of the month whether there is enough common ground for full negotiations on a coalition never before tried in national government.

They struggled to bridge differences during initial talks.

However, Greens co-leader Cem Ozdemir has indicated his party will soften its demands, much criticised by its prospective partners, to end the registering of new cars with petrol or diesel engines in 2030.

“It is clear to me that we alone will not be able to push through the cut-off date of 2030 for the registration of fossil-fuel combustion engines,” he said: “We must, of course, clear the way for emissions-free mobility with binding measures.”

Coal-fired electricity plants are still a significant source of energy for Europe’s biggest economy. Greens chairwoman Simone Peter said the party is prepared to be pragmatic on “whether the last coal-fired power station goes offline in 2030 or 2032”, and that the key is reducing carbon dioxide emissions by whatever mean.

The Greens’ comments increase pressure on other parties to make concessions.