15 Dec 2015, 00:00

COP21 - Media on Germany and the Paris Climate Summit

In this factsheet, the Clean Energy Wire presents an overview of German media comments and reports on the Paris Climate Summit, which took place from 30 November to 11 December.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 15 Dec

“Climate of disillusion”

German environment minister Barbara Hendricks did not manage to carry the enthusiasm from the Paris Summit to Berlin, writes Cerstin Gammelin in Süddeutsche Zeitung. “This was not due to the agreement in Paris, but due to the fact that not a single minister or party colleague saw the necessity to bolster up Hendricks, in order to translate the Paris euphoria into a new impetus for the stagnating national initiatives for climate protection”, writes Gammelin.

Read the article in German here.


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 15 Dec

“Yesterday’s technology”

The Paris Summit sent the clear signal that fossil plants will have to be phased out, but it would be a disaster if the agreement leads to a renaissance of nuclear energy, writes Björn Finke in a commentary in Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Coal, oil and gas will not have a future, but nuclear power is also yesterday’s technology,” argues Finke. Any government toying with the idea of building new nuclear plants should consider the huge costs involved in their construction, and also look at Germany’s expensive struggle over how to decommission them, he wrote. “If states bet on nuclear plants, they saddle themselves with enormous follow-up costs. Add to this the risk of something going wrong while operating the plants or at waste disposal.”

Read the article in German here.

Read the CLEW dossier on the challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase out here.


Spiegel Online, 15 Dec

“Germany’s double standards: Preaching climate protection but supporting coal”

It is becoming increasingly clear that Germany will miss its climate action targets for 2020, writes Horand Knaup on Spiegel Online. The government puts great hope in the revival of the European Emissions Trading system and in reducing emissions from the building and transport sector. But little of this ambition has actually born fruit, neither in the transport sector where cheap petrol will likely lead to increasing emissions nor in the building and agricultural sector, Knaup writes. Meanwhile, state owned banks are still supporting the financing of coal-fired power stations, Knaup says.

Read the article in German here.


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 14 Dec

“For humanity”

The Paris treaty is a “terrific day for humanity” and spells out clearly that the fossil era is coming to an end, writes Michael Bauchmüller in a commentary for Süddeutsche Zeitung. “The plans for a faraway future will already have an impact today… the language of the Paris treaty is so clear, that the message to investors alone will lead to a fall in global greenhouse gas emissions.” Germany now has no other option than to make a reliable plan for a coal exit. The Paris agreement also made clear that other countries will follow the example of the German Energiewende, writes Bauchmüller.

Find the comment in German (behind paywall) here.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 14 Dec

“Lowest common denominator in Paris”

The treaty is nothing but the lowest common denominator and will not reduce emissions by a single tonne of CO2 in the short and medium term, writes Andreas Mihm in a commentary for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The problem is not a lack of ambition, but reliable mechanisms to make them become reality, according to Mihm. “The celebrations of Paris… will be followed by a massive hangover.” Mihm argues the treaty “is not enough to convince business that the age of coal, oil and gas will be over soon. But exactly this would be needed.” Mihm writes that extending emissions trading systems would help the climate more than the Paris treaty.

Read the commentary in German here.


ARD, 14 Dec

“Germany must exit coal”

Germany must exit coal fast and without yielding to industry, argues Mathias Werth in a commentary in public broadcaster ARD. “It’s no longer a question of technology or energy balance, but only a problem of political will,” argues Werth. “It would be a disgrace for Germany not to make full use of this chance, to exit from coal and nuclear.”


Tagesspiegel, 14 Dec

“We manage the coal exit”

The Paris treaty in effect seals the global coal exit, writes Dagmar Dehmer in a commentary in Tagesspiegel. “The age of renewable energies has begun – everywhere.” Dehmer argues the agreement sends the decisive signal to investors the world over: “Your wealth will not grow if you invest it in coal, oil or gas.”

Read the commentary in German here.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 10 Dec

“Climate change has a social dimension in Germany, too”

An article by Claudia Hornberg, of the Health Sciences faculty at the University of Bielefeld in the FAZ looks at the health impacts of climate change in Germany. Climate change impacts in Germany tends to be seen in terms of the economy and environment, perhaps because the health impacts seem less severe than in other parts of the world, Hornberg writes. But even in Central Europe, rising temperature lead to longer pollen seasons and the spread of invasive species such as ticks that carry Lyme disease.


Spiegel Online, 09 Dec

“How the Germans are negotiating a climate miracle”

The Paris climate summit could result in a global commitment to decarbonisation, writes Axel Bojanowski for Spiegel, but there is still resistance from the oil producing states and India, as well as Japan, which would prefer a goal of “climate neutrality”. But Germany has long been laying the groundwork for a commitment to decarbonisation, not just with the G7 agreement earlier this year, but also by bringing Brazil on board, which broke with the idea that decarbonisation should only be a goal of developed economies. But there is still resistance even within the EU from Poland, and everything may still hang on whether Merkel can persuade the country’s new president.

See the article in German here.


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 09 Dec

“One climate, two worlds”

German industry insists that an agreement in Paris must have common rules for both industrialised and emerging economies, writes Michael Bauchmüller in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “All participating countries must accept comparable commitments,” the article quotes Jürgen Kerkhoff, head of the German Steel Federation, adding that an agreement without China was “unthinkable”. The Federation of German Industries has expressed similar views, Bauchmüller says.
Historically, a distinction has been made between those countries that have been responsible for high levels of emissions in the past, and poorer countries that are seen as requiring more leeway for development. But things have changed, Bauchmüller argues, with China now the largest emitter in the world, Brazil and South Africa major exporters and the Gulf states among the richest countries in the world. The issue of differentiation is likely to remain a sticking point to the end, Bauchmüller writes.

See the article in German here.


Handelsblatt, 09 Dec

"Paris talks, Opec decides"

While 195 states debate the future of global climate, the Opec has sealed its fate, because oil-exporting countries will produce as much crude as they can, writes Christian Rickens in a commentary for Handelsblatt. This will push prices down, increasing demand and CO2 emissions, argues Rickens. "There is a bitter irony in the concurrence of the climate summit and the Opec meeting. It shows us who really holds the lever that can influence the global climate. All debates about two-degree targets and decarbonisation fall on deaf ears compared with the power of markets." Rickens says changes of a few percent in the price of oil have more influence on the global climate than all lofty commitments.

Der Spiegel, 08 Dec

“Paris Climate Summit: Restrict!”

Writing in Der Spiegel, David Böcking says the threat of climate change requires less consumption - that we all fly less, use less heating and eat less meat. But politicians understandably won’t preach such a message or limit individual freedoms, which would be unpopular with voters. During the oil crisis in the 1970s, the German government restricted car use and today Germans are willing to undergo increased security checks because of the terrorist attacks in Paris. But climate change is seen as an abstract threat and easier to ignore. Some have argued that only authoritarian regimes have the power to stop climate change. Limiting our own consumption, Böcking therefore argues, is a defence of democracy.

See the article in German here.


Die Welt, 08 Dec

“Tricks, emotion and bitter truths”

In an interview with Die Welt, Jürgen Trittin, a former German environment minister and veteran of international climate negotiations, gives his view of the talks in Paris. Trittin told the paper Europe had lost its leading role in the negotiations to China and the US, who are now the key players. China is now investing more than in the development of renewables than the US and Europe combined, which Trittin said was itself a success of the German Enegiewende, which drastically brought down its cost. “It is a historic achievement that German electricity consumers gave the world,” he said.

Find the interview in German here (behind a paywall).


Frankfurter Rundschau, 08 Dec

“Guest of climate friends”

Writing in the Frankfurter Rundschau, Joachim Wille und Christian Mihatsch say that although Germany has no official role at the Paris Summit – because the EU negotiates as a single block – German officials have taken on important roles. State Secretary for the Environment Jochen Flasbarth has been mandated together with Gabon’s finance minister to find a solution on climate finance, while his boss, Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, is working with her Finish counterpart to represent the EU on differentiation. Their success will partly be down to perceptions of Germany in the negotiations, which the writers say have been boosted by the huge volumes of free coffee being distributed at the German pavilion. Everyone likes to come by for a “coffee with the Germans” the article says.


Handelsblatt, 07 Dec

“Still up in the air”

There are still many hurdles to an agreement in Paris and there is a real danger of disappointment, writes Klaus Stratmann in a commentary for business daily Handelsblatt. Negotiators have still not managed to establish a continuous process for readjusting climate pledges, there is still a gap of a few billion dollars in the Green Climate Fund, and it remains unclear whether a treaty will pass US domestic politics. “So it’s the same story as at every other climate summit: We will only know at the last second if the international community is serious about the fight against climate change.”


Der Spiegel, 07 Dec

"The Ex-Climate Chancellor"

Chancellor Angela Merkel's reputation as "climate chancellor" is being damaged internationally because of Germany's lack of success on cutting carbon emissions under her leadership, Horand Knaup and Gerald Traufetter write for the magazine Der Spiegel. While Merkel urges world leaders in Paris to work towards the decarbonisation of the global economy, Germany looks likely to miss its own 2020 reduction targets because Merkel’s government has been too lenient on industry players such as carmakers and the owners of coal-fired power plants, they write.

Read a factsheet on Germany’s climate goals here.

Find a CLEW factsheet on Angela Merkel's career as "climate chancellor" here.


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 07 Dec

"States are liable for their sins"

The insurance scheme against damages caused by climate change being planned at the Paris summit is an elegant solution and a big step for industrialised countries to address the issue of liability, writes Michael Bauchmüller in a commentary in Süddeutsche Zeitung. But he says the catch is climate change itself: “The larger the consequences, the more difficult they are to insure.” Bauchmüller writes that the commitment by G7 countries comes just at the right time, because “there will only be an agreement if both issues can be addressed: Help for the poorest and the battle against climate change.”

Read the article in German here.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 07 Dec

“A market for the climate”

It’s almost guaranteed there will be an agreement at the end of the Paris summit, including a commitment to "decarbonisation" or "climate neutrality", but the crucial question is whether it will provide detailed and binding guidelines on how to get there, writes Andreas Mihm in a commentary for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. He says emission trading systems like the EU’s should be developed and extended. The topic will not feature in an agreement, but it would be sufficient if China and Germany pushed emissions trading during their upcoming G20 presidencies, according to Mihm. “Merkel should make the overdue step to include further sectors in the trading system. It’s not enough if energy and industry get a CO2 price tag, but transport, agriculture and real estate don’t.”
Mihm also says it is deplorable that the government missed the opportunity in Paris to stress that enormous advance payments by German consumers gave the world affordable wind and solar technologies.


New York Times, 04 Dec

“Germany may offer model for reining in fossil fuel use”

Germany’s Energiewende could offer other countries ideas for fulfilling their climate protection pledges after the COP21 climate summit, currently underway in Paris, writes Melissa Eddy in The New York Times. Germany “has claimed some success in diversifying its energy sources and balancing economic growth with environmental concerns,” the newspaper says. The feature goes on to describe how Germany has expanded renewable energy and some of the obstacles it still faces in the project.

Read the article in English here.


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 03 Dec

“Exit the climate trap”

The RWE split is good news for the Paris Climate Summit, argues Michael Bauchmüller in Süddeutsche Zeitung. “The company is initiating the liquidation of its lignite business. This is the meaning of the announcement that the new renewables subsidiary is to get money from financial markets, but not the old business,” writes Bauchmüller. “Lignite is being phased out, pulverised between climate protection and green power.” He laments that this is not the case beyond Europe, as there are plans to build 2,000 additional coal-fired plants around the globe. Only a price on carbon will stop these plans turning into reality, Bauchmüller argues. “This will artificially increase the price of coal. That is the language that investors understand. The world over.”


Der Tagesspiegel. 03 Dec

“Ambition grows on the way”

International climate policy slowly makes the transition from knowledge to action, writes Dagmar Dehmer in a commentary in Tagesspiegel. “But even if the way is obvious: The fight between the old economy, which destroys the climate, and the new, which can stabilise it, is not yet decided.” She says World Climate Summits are, above all, world economic forums. “Every country attempts to preserve its old and well-tried business model for as long as possible.” Still, Paris might be a unique opportunity because of the large amount of goodwill present. “The chances to establish a self-learning agreement are good. If the architecture is right, ambition can continue to grow.”


Bloomberg, 01 Dec

“On clean energy, the wind blows from Germany”

Germany's ambitious, painful and expensive Energiewende has helped spur the development of technology that may soon work for others without massive subsidies, writes Leonid Bershidsky in a column for Bloomberg. Despite problems, “it’s clear now that the program has been a success and that as long as there is a well-defined goal and a determined effort to reach it, the necessary technology will present itself," writes Bershidsky. "The most heated arguments at the COP21 climate change conference in Paris, which got under way on Monday, will be about how to split the cost of reducing emissions among richer and poorer countries. Germans have already answered the question by unilaterally shouldering the energy transition burden.”

Read the column in English here.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 01 Dec

“Merkel’s heartfelt wish”

German environmentalists may criticise Merkel, saying she could move further and faster to decarbonise the economy, writes Andreas Mihm in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.  But off the record, many do value her long-standing engagement for climate protection. “Merkel, as a  measured policy manager, needs to weigh up what is politically realistic against what is desirable for climate policy,” writes Mihm.


Die Welt, 01 Dec

“Only the market economy can stop climate change”

The UN's climate conference in Paris is being staged as if it were humanity’s fateful hour, but that is exaggerated and diplomatically inept, writes Daniel Wetzel in a commentary in Die Welt. COP21 is “not the huge, decisive final summit of international climate diplomacy. Paris will not decide about apocalypse or saving the planet, nor is it a new era of world history. Paris is only a stepping stone,” he says. Wetzel writes that existing climate diplomacy cannot stop climate change, which would be more easily abolished by market forces. “The solution to the climate problem might be to extend trading of emissions certificates to the entire globe if possible. This would reduce the role of politics to distributing a sufficiently scarce number of tradeable permits.” After that, everything else could be left to market forces, argues Wetzel.

Read the commentary in German here.


The Economist, 30 Nov

Germany's "unusually big mistakes"

Germany has become a world leader in green power, but also serves as a warning about what can go wrong, writes Joel Budd in an Economist Special Report on climate change. “Germany has made unusually big mistakes. Handing out enormous long-term subsidies to solar farms was unwise; abolishing nuclear power so quickly is crazy,” argues Budd. He says the country’s biggest error was “to ignore the fact that wind and solar power impose costs on the entire energy system, which go up more than proportionately” as more are added, writes Budd.

Read the article in English here.


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 30 Nov

“Why this climate summit could become a success”

There are two main reasons the Paris climate summit has higher chances of success than the meeting in Copenhagen, writes Michael Bauchmüller in a commentary for Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Firstly, many states do no longer perceive an exit from coal, oil and gas as a necessary good-bye to growth and prosperity… Secondly, for the first time, all states are prepared to do something against global warming.” But there is one catch, because the agreement in sight is voluntary. So if things are really going well in Paris, we might see a deal to monitor progress every few years, writes Bauchmüller.

Read the editorial in German here.


General-Anzeiger, 30 Nov

“The ultimatum”

The Paris summit is meant to secure livelihoods for a humanity that is approaching eight billion members but, surprisingly, the media and general public are only interested in it in passing, writes Wolfgang Wiedlich in a commentary in General Anzeiger. He laments that nobody has told society clearly what “decarbonisation” by 2050 would mean in reality. “If Paris would be really successful, the people would be astonished. To save the climate, more is needed than energy-saving lightbulbs and abstinence from strawberries in December.”

Find the commentary in German here.

Potsdam Institute for Climate Imapact Research, 27 Nov

“Price on CO2: Why finance ministers could save the climate”

Finance ministers around the world should have an interest in putting a price on carbon, irrespective of the risks of unabated climate change, a study by scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) finds. Governments would benefit from charging for CO2 emissions while lowering taxes on capital and work. Revenue from the CO2 price could be used on schools, infrastructure and security, the researcher suggest.

Find the PIK study in English here (behind pay-wall).


Huffington Post, 26 Nov

“Climate protection: A transatlantic reason for optimism”

Peter Wittig, the German Ambassador to the US, writes in a commentary for the Huffington Post that he is optimistic the Paris Climate Conference will yield positive results.  He says there is unprecedented transatlantic unity on the issue of climate change, green energy is becoming affordable, and there are many pledges from the public and private sectors. Wittig explains that the Energiewende is a concrete policy to shift away from fossil fuels and nuclear energy, and fits well with the EU’s ambitious energy and climate policy. He argues Germany’s energy transition protects the environment, makes economic sense, and is making the country more independent, as well as providing geopolitical security.

Read his commentary in English here.


Energy-Intensive Industries in Germany (EID), 26 Nov

“We need a level playing field”

The Association of Energy-Intensive Industries in Germany (EID) says it is in favour of an ambitious climate agreement in Paris, but insists European industries will need support to maintain its competitiveness.  The climate summit was likely to produce a deal pointing in the right direction of more global climate action, but Europe looked still likely to pursue more ambitious goals than the rest of the world, Utz Tillmann, EID spokesman and head of the German Chemicals Industry Association VCI, told journalists. The EU commission's planned reforms of the European emissions trading system posed a risk to many energy intensive industries and needed to be corrected in order to avoid "carbon leakage", i.e. the move of energy and carbon intensive industries abroad.

Read the EID press release in German here.


IPG Journal, 24 Nov

“It’s our duty”

A Paris climate agreement has to make clear that a maximum of 2°C warming is all that the world’s nations will permit to happen, writes Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks in a guest article for IPG Journal on international policy and society. “Moreover, we need a global long-term target that sends a clear signal to economy and society: The age of fossil fuels is approaching its end. We need a ‘green zero’, that’s zero CO2 emissions from fossil fuels in the course of this century,” Hendricks writes. The fact that people are becoming impoverished because wealthy countries in particular were not showing consideration for the ecological boundaries of the world, was first and foremost an ethical problem. “If we want to prevent the reasons for migration and flight, we need to seriously address climate change.”

Read the article in German here.


Frankfurter Allgemeine, 23 Nov

“Climate target threatens steel workers”

The Paris climate summit must create uniform and binding environmental standards on a global scale so energy-intensive industries are not forced out of Europe by ambitious climate policies, argues Wolfgang Eder, CEO of Austrian steel company Voestalpine and president of the worldsteel association, in a commentary in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. A Paris agreement with nothing more than voluntary pledges would be a lazy compromise and a provocation for all observers, according to Eder. “Should Europe insist on its single-sided leading role, even though it is not even responsible for ten percent of global CO2 emissions, this would have unforeseeable long-term consequences for prosperity, social standards and political peace,” writes Eder. “The refugee crisis and the restructuring of Europe as a financial centre pose enough challenges.”


Tagesspiegel, 20 Nov

“We have to change our way of life!”

In order to achieve more climate protection and the “ecologic conversion” Pope Francis has called for, not only politicians have to act, but every one of us, writes Franz-Josef Overbeck, Catholic bishop of the Essen diocese, in an opinion piece for the Tagesspiegel. Hopes and expectations for the Paris climate summit are high, he says. According to the pope, lifestyle changes could amount to more than just small individual contributions to protecting the environment by putting pressure on those with political and economic power. 

Read the op-ed in German here.


Handelsblatt, 18 Nov

“Green capital”

While politicians argue about climate protection, the market is making companies more important actors than nation states in the fight against global warming, argues Hans-Jürgen Jakobs in a commentary for business daily Handelsblatt. “Companies are betting increasingly on the yield of green investments and saying good-bye to fossil energies, because they fear consequential costs,” writes Jakobs. “In a nutshell: After they were ignored for years, ‘external costs’ are coming into the calculation.” Jakobs argues it is not a question of capitalism versus climate protection. To the contrary, it is market forces like the sharp drop in renewables prices and ‘green money’, looking far beyond the nearest election, that stir hope in the fight against global warming.

Find the article in German (behind paywall) here.


Handelsblatt, 17 Nov

“There is no political will”

In an interview with Handelsblatt, Greenpeace director Kumi Naidoo says he has low expectations for the Paris climate conference because there is a lack of political will to exit from fossil fuels. He told the paper that while the Energiewende has provided inspiration, there is a contradiction between what Merkel says internationally and the reality in Germany. “Merkel has without doubt negotiated hard to make Paris a success,” he told the paper. “But in Germany itself, CO2 emissions are stagnating, because the chancellor has delayed the exit from coal.”

See the interview in German here.


German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW), 13 Nov

“Climate action needs clear financial commitment”

The BDEW has citicised the decision by the European finance ministers not to make concrete commitments for climate finance in developing countries. “Climate action can only work globally. With a view to the upcoming climate summit in Paris, the European Union should act as a good example and make binding commitments on financing the climate funds […],” BDEW head Hildegard Müller said in a press release. The BDEW stood by its target of achieving a carbon-neutral energy supply in Europe by 2050.

Read the press release in German here.

Read a Climate Home article on the EU finance minister’s decision in English here.


The United Nations Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study, 13 Nov

“Special Edition: A Call to Climate Action”

The majority of business leaders around the world are in favour of a long-term climate agreement to be decided in Paris in December, calling it critical to supporting private sector investment in low-carbon solutions, according to a study by the United Nations Global Compact and Accenture. Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser says in the study: "The opportunity is clear: We have the technologies, we have the business cases, and we have the responsibility. Now all we need is the commitment". Kurt Bock, CEO at German chemicals company BASF said: “At COP21, politicians have the chance to set up a long-term, reliable emission reduction framework, enabled by low-carbon technologies... Creative minds in business all over the world would have a clear picture of the low-carbon future they are innovating for, finding answers to the substantial challenges we are facing.”

Find the survey in English here.


International Energy Agency (IEA), 10 Nov

World Energy Outlook 2015

The IEA has published its World Energy Outlook 2015. In advance of the UN climate summit in Paris, “there are clear signs that an energy transition is underway: renewables contributed almost half of the world's new power generation capacity in 2014 and have already become the second-largest source of electricity (after coal),” the report finds. Global energy demand should grow by nearly one-third by 2040, the agency found. However, the link between economic growth and energy-related emissions should weaken.

Read an executive summary of the report in English here.


Bild Online, 10 Nov

“3.5 million Germans endangered by sea-level rise”

If the temperature rises by 4° Celsius, 3.5 million people on Germany’s coasts would be endangered by rising sea levels; if the temperature increases by 2° Celsius, 1.3 million people would be at risk, mass tabloid Bild reports. China and coastal cities like New York, London and Mumbai would be even worse hit.

Read the article in German here.


Handelsblatt/Germanwatch, 10 Nov

“Climate change destroys prosperity”

According to a study by NGO Germanwatch, the economic damages of climate change far outweigh the costs of ambitious policies to prevent it, reports the Handelsblatt. The study estimates economic gains from climate protection will add up to 16 trillion euros by 2050, writes Silke Kersting. This compares to IPCC calculations showing that ambitious climate protection would require investments of about five trillion euros. “A less-ambitious climate policy destroys future prosperity,” said Germanwatch policy director Christoph Bals.

Read the article in German in Handelsblatt here.

Find the Germanwatch press release in German here.


AFP, 09 Nov

“Barbara Hendricks calls for recognition of climate refugees”

German environment minister Barbara Hendricks says the UN should allow for a new category of climate refugees, AFP reports. Without an effective climate policy, drought and flooding would destabilise states, forcing people to flee, she said in an interview. Many climate refugees who had already lost their livelihoods due to global warming were currently discredited as economic migrants, the minister said. Hendricks wants industrial nations to take responsibility for this issue, because, she says, the industrialisation of developed countries has caused and is still causing global pollution.

Read the report in German here.


Die Tageszeitung - taz, 09 Nov

“Climate action, born in the U.S.A.”

We have to cast off the misconception that climate action is a German invention and that the US doesn’t care about it, says Bernhard Pötter in an opinion piece for taz. President Obama has set new standards by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline. Meanwhile Germany has just decided to give subsidies to redundant brown coal plants, Pötter says. Three weeks before the UN climate conference in Paris, Germany’s “climate chancellor” Angela Merkel should take Obama as an example.


PewResearchCenter, 06 Nov

87 percent of Germans in favour of national CO2 cuts as part of international climate agreement

55 percent of German citizens regard climate change as a “very serious problem”, American think-tank Pew found. The global median is 54 percent, in the US the figure is 45 percent, in the UK 41 percent, in Poland 19 percent, in China 18 percent and in Russia 33 percent. Interviewing over 45,000 people in 40 countries, the researchers found that globally 78 percent of people support an international agreement limiting greenhouse gas emissions; in Germany it was 87 percent and in China 71 percent.

Find the full Pew report in English here.


Der Spiegel, 02 Nov

Climate expert Schellnhuber wonders after summits: Is there intelligent life on earth?

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, physicist and head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), admits that on bad days he gets depressed thinking about the climate summit in Paris, he told Der Spiegel in an interview. But at other times he believed “we can do this”.  “It will definitely be a tight race for human kind,” Schellnhuber said. But he saw a glimmer of hope when looking at the climate change projections of his institute which, for the first time after pledges by China and India, showed a warming of 2.7°C by the end of the century. In a new book about climate change, Schellnhuber still puts the likelihood that humans will limit global warming at below 20 percent, citing his “Kafkaesque” experiences with climate summits. One leaves them “with the question whether there is intelligent life on earth”, he said.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 02 Nov

“Sign of Hope”

A global warming of 2.7°C by the end of this century will gravely affect livelihoods around the world, writes Andreas Mihm in a commentary for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. And temperatures might rise further as it is unclear how realistic the UN forecast is, he warns. “It would be careless to rely on great air polluter China to reduce emissions a few years before the target date 2030,” argues Mihm. “But however critical the evaluation of this insufficient collection of announcements - it also shows that the subject is taken seriously around the globe. That is a sign of hope.”
The UN said last week that the combined impact of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) are capable of limiting the rise in temperature to around 2.7°C by the end of the century.

Find a text on the UN climate forecast here.

UN Climate Change Secretariat / NGOs, 30 Oct

“Global response to climate change keeps door open to 2 degree C temperature limit”

A report assessing the 140 climate action plans submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ahead of the Paris summit shows that combined effort can help curb damaging greenhouse gases, the UN says in a press release. The combined impact of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) “will lead to a fall in per capita emissions over the coming 15 years”, the report finds. Furthermore, emissions will fall by as much as 8 percent in 2025 and 9 percent in 2030, and are capable of limiting the forecast temperature to a rise of around 2.7 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Although this does not meet the 2-degree limit scientists recommend, it is lower than the 4-5 degree Celsius rise many had previously predicted, says UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. Germany’s environment state secretary Jochen Flasbarth said that the long term goal had to be decarbonisation by the end of the century.

Separately, NGOs Germanwatch and Bread for the World jointly commented on the findings. They said that the direction was good but insisted that more effort was needed. “On the one hand, the Paris climate has achieved something significant: the self-established goals of around 150 countries are on the table. On the other hand, it is clear that these contributions are not enough to prevent dangerous climate change,” said Sönke Kreft, team leader of international climate policy at Germanwatch. Read more >

WWF Germany said that a mechanism which forces individual states to reduce emissions every five years would have to be decided in Paris. “It’s necessary that fossil energies like coal, oil and gas will be phased-out faster and in a more sustainable way than currently envisaged in Paris,” Regine Günther, WWF head of climate and energy policy, said. Read more>

Read the UNFCCC press release in English here.

Read the full UNFCCC report here.


WirtschaftsWoche, 23 Oct

“Climate summit in Paris will not result in joint obligations”

The history of climate negotiations shows that handing in climate action plans is one thing - but abiding by them is a different story, German economist Axel Ockenfels, from the University of Cologne, told the WirtschaftsWoche. “Paris won’t slow down climate change considerably and it won’t result in a joint obligation,” he said. Ockenfels suggests that states should negotiate about a global price on CO2 emissions. Such a price would disadvantage no one and governments could invest the generated revenue in lowering other costs.

Read the article in German here.


 SWR2, 23 Oct

“Hendricks: ‘Bring on Paris’”

The climate agreement of Paris will not be the finishing point, Germany’s Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks told SWR2 in an interview. But it was important that some decisions in it are binding, such as the 2°C warming limit for the end of the century and how CO2 emissions are measured, she said. Every country also had to become more and more ambitious in their climate targets, she added.

Listen to the interview in German here.


Potsdam Institute for Climate Research, 23 Oct

“National contributions provide entry point for the low-carbon transformation”

Commitments to reduce emissions so far submitted by countries ahead of COP21 fall short of keeping global warming below 2°C, according to a report published by a consortium of 14 research institutes, including the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research (PIK). But they do “imply an unprecedented acceleration and consolidation of action against climate change in major economies around the world” and “can serve as an entry point for the deep low-carbon transformation”. PIK said the success of the agreement would depend on a mechanism to strengthen commitments by 2020.

See the press release in English here.


Handelsblatt, 21 Oct

“Grown up climate politics”

We are seeing a paradigm shift in climate negotiations 23 years after the UN framework convention on climate change was adopted, writes Oliver Geden, researcher at the Stiftung Wissenschaft and Politik (SWP) in a guest article for the Handelsblatt. The focus has moved from “rescuing the world climate” to negotiating politically and economically viable measures, he says. The new priority is to integrate all states into a climate treaty, rather than to come up with the most ambitious treaty that insists on emission reductions to ensure the 2°C warming limit. Because with the latter, Europeans would end up alone - just as they did with the Kyoto-protocol.


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 19 Oct

“Cursed oil”

As a last preparatory meeting ahead of the global climate summit in Paris gets underway in Bonn this week, environmental activists fear that cheap oil could limit the pressure on negotiators to agree on ambitious climate targets, writes Michael Bauchmüller in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. A low oil price could mean increased use of fuel in the transport sector and less incentive to increase energy efficiency in the building sector. But so far, at least in Germany, oil consumption for transport and heating is falling despite the low price, and home insulation schemes have experienced only a slight loss of interest, Bauchmüller writes.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 14 Oct

“Oil’s closing sale”

The global movement to divest from fossil fuels has gathered rapid support this year and has turned “peak oil” arguments upside-down, writes Marcus Theurer in a commentary for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.  “The closing sale might start long before the age of oil comes to an end," because oil-producing countries might step up production for fear the market could disappear altogether. “The climate debate will radically alter the rules of the oil industry and question companies’ business models,” writes Theurer. He says this will not happen from one day to the next, but it won’t take as long as oil managers claim.


Handelsblatt, 13 Oct

“In a trap”

The vision of a global agreement to limit CO2 emissions at the UN Paris Climate Summit (COP21) is threatened by continued subsidies for fossil-based energy sources, writes Klaus Stratmann in a commentary in the Handelsblatt. “The failure of the international community to act is dangerously intersected with a wave of investments in climate-damaging coal power plants, especially in energy hungry emerging countries,” he says. These countries are subsidising coal, gas and above all oil with hundreds of billions of dollars, he says, and little has changed in this area in the last five or ten years.  Even worse, he points out, is that very little of this money trickles down to needy citizens of those countries. “Thus subsidies for fossil energy sources burden the CO2 accounts and above all the budgets of these countries,” he says. “It would be better to invest this money in climate-friendly technology.”


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 13 Oct

“EU says goodbye to binding climate goals”

According to a ten-page paper obtained by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the European Union is abandoning its plans for setting long-term climate goals for expanding renewable energy shares in the power mix and increasing energy efficiency. Concrete steps, such as how countries will increase the share of wind and solar energy by 2030, should be taken in national action plans, the newspaper writes. These plans can be adjusted at any time, however, if national conditions change, according to the paper. Germany had wanted to achieve binding targets for these currently unbinding goals, the newspaper says, but this was a step too far for many – besides Eastern European countries, also France and the UK were against this idea, the FAZ cites diplomatic sources as saying. In autumn 2014, heads of government agreed to raise the share of renewables to 27% of consumption and to increase energy efficiency by 27%, the FAZ says

Read a CLEW factsheet about Germany's emissions targets here.


Handelsblatt, 13 Oct

“The principle of the alms bowl”

In an interview with the Handelsblatt, Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, says asking countries to contribute what they can to reducing CO2 emissions is like begging for money.  This is “the principle of the alms bowl,” he says, adding that  an agreement to keep the world from warming by more than 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century is unlikely at the summit.  Despite the fact that most countries recognise the necessity to do so, they do not see the necessity for global cooperation, he says.  The summit could have some successes, however, he says. For example, if countries manage to find a way to put a price on CO2. “Until now, one tonne of CO2 is being subsidised on average with 150 dollars. It’s no wonder that many countries are still depending on coal,” he says. Europe could start with its emissions trading scheme, which needs reform, he says. “In order for there to be an effect, we need a minimum price for CO2; 20 euros and upwards is imaginable. But the market stability reserve that the EU has agreed to is not helpful,” he says.  “It is unrealistic to expect that CO2 emissions will fall without a reasonable price.”

Read the interview in German (behind a paywall) here.


Frankfurter Rundschau, 08 Oct

“An ambitious climate programme for India”

Germany has agreed to finance India’s roll out of solar energy with two billion euros and the subcontinent has finally made its climate targets public, writes Brigitte Knopf, secretary general of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, in an opinion piece in the Frankfurter Rundschau. “The fact that countries like India, who justly perceived themselves not as part of the problem, now want to become part of a solution, inspires hope that the international climate negotiations in Paris can be a success,” writes Knopf. But even if the intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) become reality, the world would still be on track to a warming of 2.7 degrees celsius; and at present, 3.6 degrees seem more likely. To avoid this fate, CO2 heavyweights like India need an ambitious climate programme and not just good intentions, writes Knopf. “The INDCs must not become empty promises. Compliance with voluntary announcements to cut CO2 must be verified…these rules for transparency must become part of an agreement in Paris.” 


klimaretter.info, 01. Oct

“The world on a 3.5-degree path”

October 1 is the deadline for countries to hand in their climate protection goals to the UN climate secretary in Bonn, and few have come up with plans that will keep the earth’s temperature from rising by more than 2 degrees celsius this century, reports Benjamin von Brackel in Klimaretter.info.  The goals are the basis for the UN Climate Summit in December, when countries will commit themselves to keeping emissions below certain levels. Climate analysts from Climate Interactive in Washington, DC, calculate on the basis of 72 countries’ current pledges that temperatures will rise by 3.5 degrees, the author says. Of the major polluters, only India has not yet turned in its plans, insisting that industrial countries first have to cut their greenhouse gases and the emerging countries must focus on eradicating poverty, the author writes. However, India still plans to turn in a plan, but one day after the deadline. The question then is whether the targets are enough to keep global warming down to 2 degrees celsius in order to keep the climate system stable.

Read the article in German here.


Handelsblatt, 01 Oct

“Climate protection poses problems for industry”

German and Austrian energy intensive companies are worried about the negative effects of more stringent climate protection rules, which could threaten their businesses and hundreds of thousands of jobs, according to a study by the Handelsblatt Research Institute, writes Martin Wocher in the Handelsblatt. Even though no such shutdowns or shifting of operations abroad have occurred yet, this could happen gradually, the institute concludes. Under particular threat is the steel industry, in light of EU plans to remove 1.5 billion CO2 certificates from the market as of 2019. Companies think this could cause the price to rise sharply to around €30 per tonne of CO2 from €7 now, according to the article. Because of exemptions or excess certificates on the market, companies have until now paid little or nothing for the right to pollute, according to the article. This could change dramatically, bringing costs of a billion euros a year for steel companies in Germany alone, the article says.

Read a dossier on competitiveness and the Energiewende here.


Handelsblatt, 01 Oct

“We need to accept the obstacles”

Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks is very confident that governments will agree to a way of limiting greenhouse gas emissions in order to keep global warming under 2°C at the UN conference in Paris, she said during an interview with Handelsblatt. This is even if not all countries would sign a legally-binding climate treaty. Another central target of the negotiations was to agree on binding measuring and monitoring methods, Hendricks said. And it would be very important for a successful outcome in Paris that industrial nations kept their promises to finance climate change mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.

Read the interview in German (behind pay wall) here.


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 28 Sept

“And they are moving after all”

War, terror, climate change – for a long time it looked as if the United Nations was getting nowhere, writes Stefan Ulrich in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. But as China announces an ambitious environment programme, including an emissions trading scheme, things might be moving after all, he says. China’s president Xi Jinping has apparently stopped depicting China as a developing country in order to block climate action. In addition, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Pope are calling on the heads of states and governments to commit to climate action ahead of Paris, Ulrich writes.


Tagesspiegel, 28 Sept

“United for a better world”

Chancellor Angela Merkel was probably watched even more closely than the Pope at the UN sustainability conference in New York, write Dagmar Dehmer and Barbara Junge in the Tagesspiegel. The spotlight was on her not only because of VW but also because of the energy transition, which is followed closely around the world, sometimes with enthusiasm, sometimes with “blistering rejection”. Merkel promised to increase Germany’s development budget to 0.7 percent of the GDP and reminded industrialised nations about their promise to pay 100 billion dollars into a green climate fund. However, her remarks about who will contribute this money remained vague, as she spoke about a joint responsibility of private and state funding, the authors say.

Read the article in German here.


International New York Times, 25 Sept

“Germans take a tumble from moral high ground”

“Volkswagen’s deception raises doubt in a nation known for following rules,” writes Alison Smale in the International New York Times. It also puts the nation in “an awkward spot” ahead of the UN climate change summit in Paris in December, where Germany would be held up as a model for how an industrial nation can replace fossil fuels largely with renewables, the author says.


Bloomberg, 24 Sept

“Merkel’s climate crusading risks being blemished by VW scandal”

The Volkswagen emissions-cheating scandal could sully Germany’s reputation as a model for climate protection, just as Chancellor Angela Merkel heads to New York this weekend to push for environmental responsibility, writes Patrick Donahue for BloombergBusiness. Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the Center for Automotive Research at the University of Duisberg-Essen, says Merkel’s government has not done enough to push the powerful automotive industry to greener technology like electric cars, according to the article.

Read the BloombergBusiness article in English here.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, 21 Sept

“Worried about the climate”

The very hot and dry summer of 2015 was a sign of climate change, 46 percent of Germans believe. In contrast, 40 percent told pollster Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach that they believe the high temperatures were a normal weather phenomenon.

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.


Sven Egenter

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