Germany’s finance minister and vice chancellor Olaf Scholz has shot down a plan by environment minister Svenja Schulze to introduce ambitious emissions reduction standards across the EU in order to meet the climate targets agreed on in the Paris Agreement, Gerald Traufetter and Simon Hage write in Der Spiegel. Scholz reportedly rejected fellow Social Democrat Schulze’s plan after he had been visited by labour union and car industry representatives, who said that the planned 50 percent emissions reduction by 2030, much more than the 30 percent reduction currently envisaged by the EU, would cost up to 100,000 jobs in Germany’s most important industry. The authors say Germany’s carmakers will also benefit from the finance ministry’s planned tax breaks for electric and hybrid cars, which apparently will not be contingent on minimum performance standards for hybrid cars, as initially expected by the companies. According to the article, a car industry manager said “we can’t believe how lucky we are” in light of Scholz’s car-friendly initiatives.
Find a short version of the article on Spiegel Online here.
See the CLEW articles German environment ministry pushes for tighter car emissions rules and One year after Germany’s diesel summit, the air quality challenge remains for more information.
The surcharge German power customers pay with their power bill to finance the expansion of renewable energy is going to remain largely stable next year, according to calculations made by the energy policy think tank Agora Energiewende*. The renewables surcharge (EEG Umlage) will likely stand between 6.7 and 6.9 eurocents per kilowatt hour (kWh) in 2019 and not increase substantially as initially expected. The renewables surcharge will remain stable for the third year in a row, Agora says in a press release, adding that higher wholesale power prices and financial reserves accrued by the grid operators allow the authorities to keep the rate at its current level. Agora says the surcharge will likely rise above 7 ct/kWh in 2020 before it will fall substantially in the mid-2020s due to much lower investment costs for new renewable power installations. Grid operators will officially announce the 2019 surcharge on 15 October.
Read the press release in German here.
*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
German reinsurance company Munich Re will no longer invest in companies that make more than 30 percent of their revenues from coal-based operations, CEO Joachim Wenning said in a guest article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “Climate change is a fact,” Wenning said, adding that reaching the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to less than two degrees Celsius is necessary to avoid having to spend more and more on costly weather extremes. “Of all fossil fuels, coal is responsible for the biggest share of CO2 emissions,” he said, adding that new coal plants are “irreconcilable” with the aim of curbing climate change. Munich Re would instead ramp up its efforts in promoting sustainable technologies, such as solar power, wind power, or power-to-X systems, Wenning said. However, while coal-based projects will be shunned “in principle,” there will be exceptions for “existing clients or in emerging markets,” as the latter should be allowed to continue burning coal for economic growth, Wenning added.
Find a Reuters article on the topic in English here.
Green Party / Zeit Online
In the face of one of the hottest and driest summers ever recorded in Germany, the Green Party is calling for an aid fund worth at least two billion euros to provide financial resources for climate change mitigation across the country, the party says in a press release. “We have ignored climate change mitigation in Germany […] because we hoped this will only affect the global south,” party leader Annalena Baerbock said in an article carried by Zeit Online, adding that the relief fund could be used to pay compensation to those whose economic existence is threatened by the extreme weather, as well as to finance health care, heat protection in cities, fire and flooding protection, and adaptation measures in agriculture, the article says. The Greens say the fund could be filled with money generated from a tax on carbon emissions.
See the CLEW article Germany’s power system weathers heat wave despite fossil plant curbs and the factsheet How much does Germany’s energy transition cost? for more information.
Due to the slow progress made in modernising Germany’s power grid to cope with the large number of renewable energy installations, energy politician Jens Koeppen of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU party says the country should stop wind power expansion until the grid can cope with greater volumes, the Focus Online website reports. Otherwise, customers end up having to pay for renewable power that cannot even be retailed properly, Koeppen says. He also argues that given the increasing size of wind turbines, minimum distances to residential areas should be revised and more competencies granted to the federal states to determine how turbines are integrated into the landscape.
Read the article in German here.
See the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s power grid for more information.
Centre for European Economic Research
The demand for electricity storage solutions will increase substantially in Germany in the next decade, with battery and heat storages expected to grow the fastest, according to a survey conducted by the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) among energy industry experts. Over 70 percent of survey participants said they believe batteries will be the quickest growing segment in the next ten years, while heat storages ranked second with 47 percent in the survey that allowed for choosing more than one answer. Other technologies, such as pumped hydro or compressed air storages, are expected to grow much slower, the ZEW survey reveals. According to the experts, the price and the reaction time of storages are decisive for investors, while the current political framework does little to promote the use of energy storages, the ZEW says.
Find the press release in German here.
Franfkurter Allgemeine Zeitung
The extreme summer of 2018 in Germany and most of Europe has prompted climate change deniers to hastily announce that the exceptional heat and drought are merely normal weather phenomena and do not testify to the human effect on the global climate, Joachim Müller-Jung writes in an opinion piece in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “This kind of thinking is alive and kicking – and it is a tragedy,” Jung says. “It bears testimony to the fatal tendency to sacrifice one of the greatest achievements of the modern age, namely the victory of reason over irrationality, and thereby the painstakingly researched truth itself.” Right-wing populist politicians like Alternative for Germany (AfD) spokesman Jörg Meuthen attempt to play down the obvious evidence that the incidence of extreme weather situations is increasing across the globe, and to negate the plausible conclusion that human activity plays a substantial role in this development, Jung writes.
Read the opinion piece in German here.
For background read the CLEW dossier The energy transition and climate change.