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German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses a meeting of the German Association of Local Utilities (VKU - Verband kommunaler Unternehmen) in Berlin, Germany, March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's next government must set exact targets for cutting CO2 emissions soon after September's national election to provide clarity for local governments and companies to plan, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday.

Merkel said the goal of reducing emissions by 80-95 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels was a good one and had to be properly discussed. Those pledges are part of a global climate treaty agreed in Paris in 2015.

"But there is a big difference between 80 percent and 95 percent," she said in a speech to the VKU association for local infrastructure companies, adding it was a big and important question to answer.

"It must be decided early in the next legislative period. A lot depends on it ... We must get clarity," she said.

Germany, which is switching to renewable energy sources as it phases out nuclear power and also gradually reduces its reliance on fossil fuels, has already set a firm goal to lower emissions by 40 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels.

Merkel, once dubbed the 'climate chancellor' for pushing G8 nations to address climate change, also expressed frustration that the extension of the power grid in Germany was trailing the expansion of renewable energy.

In particular, a high-voltage connection aimed at transporting renewable energy from northern Germany to the industrial south has been held up by lengthy legal proceedings.

Some six months before the federal election, opinion polls show Merkel's conservatives are roughly neck-and-neck with the centre-left Social Democrats, currently their junior partners in a 'grand coalition'.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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