07 Jul 2017, 00:00
Sven Egenter Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Climate dispute clouds G20 summit / "Who follows Merkel?"

Spiegel/ZDF/German government

US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin are set to miss the G20 leaders’ discussion on climate and energy as they have scheduled their first personal meeting during the working session, German news website Spiegel Online reports. German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the G20 leaders for the summit in Hamburg, where protests turned violent overnight and protesters clashed with police. Merkel told the press on Thursday night that there were various options on the table with regards to a commitment to the Paris Agreement for the final statement, adding that the Sherpas - the G20 leaders top-negotiators – still had “some work to do over the coming two nights”. News agencies have reported that the G20 were working on a compromise that would allow the United States to agree on the final communiqué while taking note of the US president’s decision to leave the international climate deal. But close observers of the negotiations have told the Clean Energy Wire that discussions were still ongoing. German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel told TV station ZDF on Thursday after a meeting with Trump and Merkel that the climate issue remained “clearly disputed”.

Find background on the G20 climate and energy transition issues in the Clean Energy Wire dossier.

Clean Energy Wire

The topic of climate change should be “treated with utmost intensity and seriousness” at the Hamburg Summit, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said at a press conference before official talks began. Juncker said he was “thankful” that German Chancellor Angela Merkel presided over the summit. “Looking at the situation, she will have to pull her full weight, but Ms Merkel knows that she cannot and does not have to do it alone,” said Juncker.


For Germans, climate change topped the list of the most pressing global issues for G20 to fix, a poll by public broadcaster ZDF showed. Thirty-three percent put solutions to climate change at the top of the list, 29 percent said the migrant crisis was the most urgent issue, followed by terrorism (27 percent) and free trade (7 percent). But 78 percent of those polled expected no impetus from the G20 on those issues, only 10 percent expected progress, while 10 percent feared the G20 would be falling back.

Find the poll here.

Wiesbadener Tagblatt

The Unesco Heritage Committee wants plans for a wind farm near Lorch in the protected Rhine Gorge World Heritage Site to be abandoned, Barbara Dietel writes in Wiesbadener Tagblatt. The Committee said the planned 212-metre high windmills violated Unesco regulations on construction works in heritage sites, she writes. Consultants charged with assessing the turbines’ impact have previously estimated that Unesco would consider the role renewable energies play in climate protection and therefore approve the wind power project, Dietel writes.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet Fighting windmills: when growth hits resistance for more information.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

German prosecutors have made the first arrest at carmaker Audi over the emissions fraud scandal, Süddeutsche Zeitung reports. The former engine developer who worked at Audi until a few months ago allegedly helped develop the emissions manipulation software for diesel cars. The person was arrested on Monday, the article says. US authorities had already been investigating the Italian man for several months and might make a request for extradition, it adds.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers for background.


The decision by Swedish carmaker Volvo to equip all its cars with electric engines by 2019 demonstrates the rapid change seen in the international automotive industry, Manfred Kriener writes in a commentary for Tageszeitung (taz). “Volvo has understood,” he says, arguing that China’s planned mandatory e-car quota for all carmakers triggered the Swedish brand’s decision. The company is owned by Chinese car conglomerate Geely. China’s quota “has done more than all support programmes and premium payments ever did", he says. German carmakers were eager to pledge a similar shift to electric mobility, but those “all pointed at the next decade", Kriener writes. Daimler and VW were particularly slow to take concrete steps, and instead retrofitted existing combustion engines, he says. 

Read the commentary in German here.

See the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers for background.

Politico Europe

German Chancellor Angela Merkel might enjoy global respect as “leader of the free world” but her current standing also warranted “a more nuanced assessment” of what her country “has done and can do”, Michael Bröning writes in an opinion piece for Politico Europe. Merkel’s strategy for dealing with the Euro crisis deepened rifts in Europe and her “u-turn” on immigration and refugees “cast a large question mark over the celebrated example of German moral leadership", Bröning argues. The same was true for her “acclaim as ‘climate Chancellor’", he says. Merkel’s push for climate protection at the G20 demonstrated her leadership skills but “the fact is that there has been virtually no reduction in German CO2 emissions since 2009".

Read the article in English here.

See the CLEW factsheets The story of “Climate Chancellor” Angela Merkel and Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions and climate targets for more information.

Handelsblatt Global

The significant increase of investments into renewables in G20 countries is insufficient to meet the Paris Climate Agreement’s pledge to keep global warming well below two degrees Celsius, Klaus Stratmann and Silke Kersting write in Handelsblatt Global. Investments had to be doubled to achieve that goal, totalling 615 billion euros each year until 2035, according to a study by Allianz Climate and Energy Monitor, they say. Countries which heavily ramped up renewables investments, such as China and India, also continue to invest heavily in the construction of new coal-fired power plants, and will thereby undermine the Paris goals. About 1,600 coal plants are planned worldwide, enough to power one billion households in industrialised countries, they add.

Find the study by Allianz Climate and Energy Monitor in English here.

See the CLEW dossier The energy transition and climate change for background.

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.
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