13 Oct 2016
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Call to scrap harmful car subsidies / VW work council’s job warning

Federal Environment Agency (UBA)

German transport subsidies worth billions of euros are harmful to the environment, a serious obstacle to the transition to a renewable mobility future, and should be abolished, according to the Federal Environment Agency (UBA). Subsidies for diesel engines, business car fleets and long-distance commuting added up to 28 billion euros in 2012, said UBA head Maria Krautzberger at a press conference in Berlin. In contrast, the government supports e-mobility with one billion euros in total until 2020, according to the UBA.
Krautzberger said her agency was “delighted” the German Bundesrat had expressed the aim to phase out new registrations of cars with combustion engine by 2030. She said it was unclear whether it would be possible to raise e-cars’ share of new registrations from 0.7 percent today to 100 percent within 14 years, adding the transition would have to be socially acceptable. “But it is the right way, and an important signal” said Krautzberger.
On Germany’s Climate Action Plan 2050, which is to be approved by cabinet in early November, Krautzberger said: “It will probably be a disappointment […] But the Plan could be amended next year.”

Find the press release in German here.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

VW’s work council believes the switch to electric mobility will lead to the loss of up to 25,000 jobs within ten years, reports Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. But new jobs will be created in areas such as software development and mobility services, Bernd Osterloh, the council’s head, said. Osterloh ruled out enforced redundancies.
In a commentary in the same newspaper, Martin Gropp claims electrification and digitalisation might pose the biggest challenges for Germany’s car industry since the invention of the automobile.

Read the article in German here.  

For background on the challenges for German carmakers in a new mobility world, read the new CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.

Find more background on VW plans in the factsheet Dieselgate forces VW to embrace green mobility.

Die Welt

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche has rejected calls to end new registrations for petrol or diesel cars from 2030, reports Birgit Nicolai in die Welt. Shortly before his speech at the Green party conference, Zetsche said Germany did not need sanctions and insisted customers should not be told what to buy. “Seventy-five percent of new cars will be equipped with a combustion engine in 2025 and we will continue to invest into improving these engines,” said Zetsche.

Read the article in German here.

For background, read the CLEW articles German states - New cars in EU should be emission-free by 2030 and VW, Daimler take key step for e-mobility at Paris Car Show.

The factsheet Reluctant Daimler plans “radical” push into new mobility world details Daimler’s plans for the future of mobility.


Forcing global carmakers based on 130-year-old technology to switch to e-mobility will be complicated and protracted, writes Hannes Koch in a commentary for tageszeitung. He says even the Green party depends on the well-being of large companies for its election success and so has to make compromises. Koch writes that it is not so important whether the phase-out will happen in 2030 or 2034, and the decision on a date could be postponed a little longer. “But eventually, the decision will have to be taken […] No date means: no climate policy.”

Read the commentary in German here.

WWEA / businessGreen

Global wind capacity is set to hit 500 gigawatts (GW) by the end of 2016, according to a report by the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA). Germany is among the top three countries regarding both total and newly installed capacity in the first half of this year. It contributed 47,420 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity by June this year. With new additions of 2,389 MW in the first half of 2016, the country comes in second behind China, which had 10,000 MW worth of new installations. “The news comes amid fears that installation rates could slow if a recent slump in renewables investment does not pick up,” writes Madeleine Cuff in a separate article for businessGreen.

Read the WWEA press release and report in English here and the article by businessGreen in English here.

vzbv / HDE

A reform of the electricity tax along with other measures, such as removing certain industry exemptions, could lead to electricity cost savings of 3.8 billion euros for the retail sector and private consumers, according to a joint position paper by the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv) and The German Retail Federation (HDE). “The retail sector and private consumers currently pay an disproportionately large share of the Energiewende costs” with almost half of the renewable surcharge, although they consumed only a third of German electricity, said Klaus Müller, executive director at vzbv.

Read the press release in German here and the position paper in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article Germany’s renewables surcharge to rise less than expected – report and the CLEW factsheet What German households pay for power.

Die Welt

Helmar Rendez, chairman of Germany’s newest lignite company LEAG, has pushed for a swift decision over the possible expansion of open pit mining in the Eastern German region of Lusatia, writes Daniel Wetzel in Die Welt. “This is no decision that we can postpone much longer,” Rendez told the newspaper. LEAG will decide in the coming months whether the lignite mines formerly run by Vattenfall are going to be expanded under the aegis of their new owner EHP, according to Wetzel.

For more information on Vattenfall’s decision to give up lignite mining in Lusatia see the CLEW-Factsheet Vattenfall's German brown coal: what's being sold and who wants to buy.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

A new service by power price comparison website Verivox could threaten the business model of German electricity suppliers, writes Jan Schmidbauer in Süddeutsche Zeitung. Verivox reminds customers about cheaper offers and carries out the switch to a new supplier - making the procedure simpler and potentially stripping companies of long-term customers, Schmidbauer writes. The business model of many energy suppliers consists of initially offering new customers favourable conditions and increasing prices after a certain period, relying on customers to be “too sluggish” to change contracts, writes Schmidbauer. Verivox makes money by receiving a commission for each contract that it brokers for suppliers, raising doubts whether customers will end up getting the best deal possible, Schmidbauer says.

Read the article in German here.

For background information on the Energiewende’s effect on electricity costs see the CLEW-Dossier Energiewende effects on power prices, costs and industry.

Die Zeit

Battery-powered urban buses will eventually replace combustion engines in Germany’s public transportation systems, writes Christoph M. Schwarzer in Die Zeit. He says they will be cleaner and become significantly cheaper in the near future. “Rapidly dwindling costs for battery systems provide a decisive push and a source for optimism in the industry,” Schwarzer writes. Dropping prices would enable municipalities to afford electric urban buses, he adds. Since many communities also produce their own energy, the price difference to diesel fuel will become even greater, thereby making “diesel engines no longer competitive in the medium-term”.

Read the article in German here.

For more information on electric mobility see the CLEW-Dossier The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector.

For insight into German carmakers’ efforts in green transportation, see the CLEW-Dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.

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