Civil society calls for quick coal exit, CO2 price/ Cars reign supreme
Clean Energy Wire / Climate Alliance
More than 60 civil society groups under the umbrella organisation Climate Alliance are calling for an ambitious phase-out of coal-fired power generation, a higher goal for renewables expansion, and a CO₂ floor price in the power sector. The alliance has presented a comprehensive collection of proposals for measures to help Germany reach its 2030 climate targets in all sectors. The proposals include:
- Halving coal power capacity by 2020, and shutting down the dirtiest and oldest plants first
- Raising the 2030 renewables expansion goal from the current 65 to 75 percent
- Introducing a CO₂ floor price for electricity together with Germany’s European neighbours
- Reforming the energy taxes and levies system, e.g. by taking into account the CO₂ intensity of different fuels in taxes
- Designing a plan by mid-2019 on how to steer financial flows to make them compatible with a 1.5 degree Celsius path
- Buttressing the planned climate protection law with concrete measures
The NGOs will discuss their proposals with the German government over the coming months. To complement the sector targets laid out in the Climate Action Plan 2050, environment minister Svenja Schulze has asked other ministries to propose such measures by the end of this year, and the government plans to present the full programme in spring 2019.
Find a press release and the measures in German here.
For background, read the CLEW factsheet Germany’s Climate Action Plan 2050.
A large majority of Germans says the continued expansion of renewable energies is important (24 percent) or very important (68 percent), according to a survey conducted by forsa and commissioned by the energy company EnBW and the newspaper Welt. Only a minority of German citizens would have strong reservations about the construction of a wind turbine or a solar park in the vicinity of their place of residence, writes forsa. Respondents also said they had made personal efforts to protect the climate over the past year, such as saving energy in their homes (85 percent), or eating less meat (57 percent). forsa writes that one must bear in mind the considerable gap between the high environmental awareness of the citizens and their actual behaviour in general, so respondents’ replies might not as a rule correspond to their actions.
Find the survey details in German here.
For background, read the CLEW factsheet Polls reveal citizens' support for Energiewende.
dpa / Focus
The neighbours of a lignite power plant in the city of Bergheim in Germany’s western region of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) are suing the energy company RWE over its plans to replace four older generating units at its Niederaußem plant with a modern coal plant, the news agency dpa reports in an article carried by Focus Online. The petitioners say the planned new lignite plant violates a regional development plan from 1995, as well as NRW’s climate protection law, and argue that possible future sound emission levels have not been examined properly.
Find the article in German here.
Federal Ministry of Transport
Private cars remain the favoured means of transportation for most Germans, but they are only used for 45 minutes per day on average, a study commissioned by Germany’s transport ministry (BMVI) has found. About 43 percent of all trips are made with either a car or a motorcycle, practically unchanged from the last survey in 2008, the study “Mobility in Germany 2017” that surveyed a total of 150,000 people says. However, more people nowadays use car sharing services and the use of bicycles and public buses in cities has also increased. The authors say that especially older people tend to use a car, while younger citizens and those living in bigger cities “are following a different trend.”
Find the study in German here.
Lignite mining regions in Germany received at least 13.8 billion euros in state support between 2013 and 2017 to help them cope with the challenges of structural economic change, the German government says in an answer to a parliamentary inquiry initiated by the Green Party. More than 5 billion euros were directed at the western Rhenish coal district, 2.9 billion euros at the eastern German region of Lusatia, 1.4 billion to the Helmstedt district and 4.4 to the Central German mining district near Leipzig. “These figures are far below the actual support payments as there is no regional breakdown for all support programmes, such as the European Structural and Investment Funds,” the government says. It adds that, at the end of 2016, about 19,850 people were still directly employed in the lignite industry and another 12,000 jobs directly depended on the industry’s well-being. For Lusatia, this meant a 2 percent share of regular jobs. The respective figure for the Rhenish coal district was 1.1 percent.
Find the government’s response in German here.
See the CLEW factsheet Germany’s three lignite mining regions for background.
Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs & Energy
Large-scale renewable power production and the development of storage technology, both with power-to-x systems and batteries, can provide viable economic prospects for Germany’s coal mining regions as the fossil fuel is gradually phased out, a study commissioned by the economy ministry (BMWi) has found. “An increased expansion of solar and wind power at the open pit mines, especially in a combined way as large hybrid plants, offers outstanding opportunities,” says the study, conducted by companies specialised in law, renewable energy, economic research and consulting. “Hybrid plants can take over the grid capacity vacated in the coal districts and they can be constructed in line with the gradual phase-out of coal power.”
Find the study in German here.
See the CLEW article Taskforce agrees on post-coal strategy for German mining regions for more information.
The economy minister of Germany’s affluent southwestern region of Baden-Wurttemberg, Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut, warns against constructing a German battery cell factory “in the middle of nowhere” as this would make “no sense from an industry perspective.” Hoffmeister-Kraut says a battery factory should be built in the proximity of partner companies and large customers, and proposes Baden-Wurttemberg, home of car giant Daimler as well as of many successful small and medium sized companies, as a location. Federal economy minister Peter Altmaier had earlier suggested that a German battery factory could be built in the eastern region of Lusatia, which lacks a solid industrial base and is much more sparsely populated than Germany’s southern regions. “This is the last chance we’ll get in history to close the gap” between battery production in Germany and Asia, the minister says, adding that the country should not wait for breakthroughs in other storage technologies.
Read the interview in German here.
For background, read the article Chinese-German battery cell deal key step for mobility transition and the dossier Electricity storage is next feat for Germany’s energy transition.
Global greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by using algae that convert carbon dioxide into a raw material for producing carbon fibre, researches at the Technical University of Munich have found. The algae remove CO2 from the atmosphere and turn it into an oil that then serves as the basis for producing carbon fibre, thereby making the capture and reuse of carbon emissions economically viable. In a press release, the researchers say that carbon fibres could “replace structural steel in construction materials,” or simply be stored underground to permanently remove the associated carbon dioxide equivalents from the atmosphere.
Find the press release in English here.
See the CLEW article Call for open debate on CCU and CCS to save industry emissions for more information.
German truckmakers are outraged about the more ambitious emission limits for heavy duty vehicles adopted by the European Parliament, report Till Hoppe and Franz Hubik in the Handelsblatt. Industry association VDA said it was “unworkable” to reduce emissions by 20 percent by 2025 and by at least 35 percent by 2030. The lobby group’s president, Bernhard Mattes, said a huge technical development effort could yield a maximum 7 percent reduction by 2025 and 16 percent by 2030. Industry expert Stefan Bratzel, head of the Center of Automotive Management, said the 2025 limit especially was “enormously ambitious.”
For background, read the dossier How Germany is greening its growing freight sector to meet climate targets.
Clean Energy Wire
Germany’s government cabinet has decided on an amendment of the federal imissions law to prevent diesel driving bans in cities where nitrogen oxide limits are exceeded by 25 percent (50 micrograms NO2 per cubic meter air instead of 40 micrograms). Under the new law, driving bans will only be seen as a proportionate measure to ensure clean air in cities if they are higher than 50 micrograms. If values don’t rise over 50 micrograms it is to be assumed that diesel car software updates and other clean air measures of the local authorities are sufficient to reduce nitrogen oxide pollution. The government also decided on the diesel cars which are allowed to drive in polluted cities, e.g. those which have received software or hardware updates. The cabinet will notify the European Commission of these changes since the NOx pollution limits stem from EU regulation.
See the press release in German here.
See CLEW's Q&A on diesel driving bans for background.