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15 Jul 2020, 10:30
Sören Amelang Kerstine Appunn Sven Egenter Freja Eriksen Yannick Haas Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

A climate-friendly post-coronavirus stimulus – tracking the debate

Photo shows team installing solar thermal unit in Germany. Source: ZVSHK.
Installation of a solar thermal unit. Source: ZVSHK.

As the coronavirus crisis drives many governments across the globe to introduce emergency plans to cushion the immediate economic effects, there are growing calls to align any mid and long-term stimulus efforts with climate targets. Many even see an opportunity to reset the economy on a more climate-friendly path with "green stimulus packages". However, the pandemic has already made climate policy a lower priority for governments and the public, and calls to loosen emission regulations to boost economic activity are growing louder. Follow the debate on key policy and legislative ideas and initiatives regarding a climate-friendly post-coronavirus stimulus in Germany, the EU and beyond in this regularly updated news overview. (UPDATE 15 July)

15 July - Germany and G20+

Since the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic in early 2020, Germany has given 48.3 percent of energy related recovery funds to clean energy, a new website tracking the money flowing into the energy sector from recovery packages shows. At least 27 billion USD were allocated to clean energy, with 17 billion USD going to fossil fuel energy, the website energypolicytracker.org which is operated by NGOs IISD, IGES, OCI, ODI, SEI and Columbia University shows. In the G20+ countries,151 billion USD were pledged to fossil fuels, 56% of all public money committed to the energy sector.

14 July - EU

The EU member states' environment minister have called for a recovery programme that "ensures we do not return to business as usual" and is in line with environmental and climate targets. In a joint video conference under the aegis of Germany's EU Council presidency, the ministers agreed that the bloc's multiannual financial framework and the forthcoming economic stimulus programmes to cushion the effects of the coronavirus pandemic should "substantially contribute" to climate targets and vowed to make agreements on environmental matters a "top priority" for the rest of the year. "That is why it is so important to me to already address the green recovery during our first video conference to kick off the German Council Presidency," German environment minister Svenja Schulze said.

An analysis by energy policy think tank Agora Energiewende found that the EU’s budget proposal falls short of honouring climate protection commitments made by Council president Ursula von der Leyen. Of the proposed budget of 1.85 trillion euros, only about 80 billion euros are allocated "firmly" to climate protection, the think tank said. "If significant amendments are not made, Europe will face a vast shortfall in green investment," Agora stated.

10 July – Germany

Germany’s coronavirus crisis economic stimulus package must undergo a climate impact assessment to ensure it is in line with mid and long-term targets, the Steering Committee of the German Science Platform Climate Protection (WPKS) has said in a statement. "Along with the Climate Action Programme 2030, the economic stimulus package is the most important set of measures in terms of climate policy for this legislative period and thus falls under the audit mandate which the government has given to the [WPKS]," said steering committee co-chair Sabine Schlacke. She added that there should be a quick climate check for legislation that is debated in parliament, and then an ex-ante evaluation of the climate impact of individual measures, such as loans or other financial support, which should be initiated by the government.

6 July – Germany

Former German finance minister and current president of the federal parliament (Bundestag) Wolfgang Schäuble calls on the European Union and its member states to use the recovery from the coronavirus crisis to “make a better future”. In an op-ed in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, he writes that the EU now has the opportunity “to critically review our entire economic model and to correct the excesses of globalisation where they have contributed to the dramatic effects of the pandemic. That is why, in revitalising our economic systems, we should place particular emphasis on their social and environmental sustainability.” Schäuble proposes to create a floor price in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) and transfer the revenues to the bloc’s budget. Part of the revenues from energy taxes could also go to the joint budget, wrote Schäuble.

3 July – Global

Major nations including the United States and Russia are throwing a lifeline to fossil fuel companies during the coronavirus crisis, rather than seizing a historic chance to shift to cleaner energies, a study by 14 research groups is set to show, reported Climate Home News. Only China, India and four other nations in the Group of 20 leading economies were committing more public money to clean energy than to polluting sectors. The findings are due for publication on 15 July, at a new website, energypolicytracker.org.

1 July – Germany / EU

The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) and consultancy Aurora Energy Research both publish papers stressing that green recovery money should be used sustainably. Both say that government money may not be used to keep outdated technologies alive, i.e. it is important to avoid investments that are turning into stranded assets in a sustainable economy of the future.

UBA says the stimulus money should be used to substantially reduce the EEG-surcharge on renewable electricity in Germany and invest in public transport, to increase the bonus for electric vehicles and for a large battery storage system for the power grid (among others).

Aurora Energy Research proposes a focus on the categories of clean energy supply; decarbonisation of energy dependent sectors through targeted support for energy transition in industry, mobility and housing and accompanying measures for a sustainable economy such as digitisation.

16 June - Germany / EU

The German government should use its EU Council presidency in the second half of 2020 to help put the European Green Deal at the centre of economic recovery plans, said German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE) president Simone Peter. “The federal government can play a pivotal role in pushing the Green Deal with full force and making sure that the coronavirus crisis is not used as an excuse to lower ambition,” she said during a press briefing presenting the group’s key demands. Rainer Hinrichs-Rahlwes, vice-president of the European Renewable Energies Federation (EREF), added that Germany in its role as a “moderator” during the presidency should actually advance key ambitious energy and climate decisions, instead of simply administering the debates. 

10 June – Germany

With regard to climate action, the German government coalition's economic stimulus programme contains "some good approaches and many important impulses," the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy says. Important areas, such as investments in a circular economy and measures to increase energy efficiency, are, however, missing, writes the institute. These areas in particular could have stimulated both the economy and climate action. Although the package has a consistent focus on electric mobility, the pandemic has made it clear that bicycle and pedestrian transport infrastructure need to be expanded in Germany, it adds.

8 June 2020  Germany

The oft-used phrase "recovery" in response to the coronavirus crisis "falls short," write Germany's environment minister Svenja Schulze and Michael Roth, minister of state for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office, in an opinion piece in the Handelsblatt. What is needed is a "courageous transformation of our European economic growth model, a real departure," they write. When Germany takes over the presidency of the EU Council in July, the country will bear "special responsibility" and must make sure that at least 25 percent of all expenditure in the EU budget is linked to climate action. The country must also strive to ensure that the EU as a whole sets itself more ambitious climate targets, Schulze and Roth say.

4 June 2020 – Germany

The German government coalition decides to reboot Europe's largest economy with a 130 billion euros stimulus package that contains steps to further the country's landmark energy transition. Aside from comprehensive actions such as reducing the value-added tax to boost domestic demand, the programme agreed by Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) will lower levies on power prices for households and small businesses, provide additional funding for public transport, and establish a 50 billion euro “future package” for investments in fields such as future mobility and hydrogen technologies. Economists, researchers and NGOs welcomed the focus on climate-friendly technologies but criticised that the government missed the opportunity to fully align the programme with climate targets.

2 June 2020 – Germany

In dialogue with large and energy-intensive companies in Germany, the business initiative Stiftung 2° published a position paper outlining what they would like a climate-friendly recovery package for industry to look like. The position paper proposes introducing an investment programme for low carbon "breakthrough" technologies and calls for more ambitious expansion targets for hydrogen production capacities and the introduction of a quota for hydrogen from renewable energies, among other things.

27 May – Germany

Germany should stimulate investments, if possible sustainable investments, the industry-sponsored German Economic Institute (IW) said in a policy paper. The government could do this by introducing a scrappage premium for oil heating systems and supporting the energy-efficient modernisation of buildings. At the same time, there should be a temporary relief for private households by halving the renewables levy and a one-time payment of 300 euros per child. 

27 May – Germany

The Greens’ parliamentary group has presented its “future pact to overcome the coronavirus crisis in a sustainable way. The Greens propose a short-term stimulus programme on 100 billion euros and a long-term investment programme of 500 billion euros, both “targeted, in time, temporary and transformative”. The European Green Deal, the Paris climate agreement, national climate targets and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are the framework, they add. Among other things, the Greens call for a comprehensive reform of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) before the summer break, lowering the renewables levy by 5 cents from 1 July onwards and additional purchasing incentives only for climate-friendly passenger cars.

27 May – Germany

German education and research minister Anja Karliczek has proposed a 10 billion euro “activation programme” to boost investments in research, education and innovation as part of a planned wider economic stimulus package by the federal government. This would provide support for large offshore green hydrogen facilities, projects on artificial intelligence and health research.

26 May - Germany

Economy minister Peter Altmaier said innovation, sustainability and fairness are the cornerstones of an economic stimulus programme for the car industry. Ahead of a working group meeting with other ministries and the auto industry (26 May) with the aim to prepare a concept paper for a car industry summit with chancellor Angela Merkel on 2 June, he said: “The goal is a joint concept that will quickly and successfully stimulate the economy in the automotive sector, but also in other important sectors of the economy, and is in line with our climate goals.”

26 May - France / Germany / EU

An alliance of French and German civil society organisations has called on their national governments and the European Commission to ensure that economic recovery programmes following the coronavirus pandemic accelerate the bloc's transition towards a climate-neutral economy with the Green Deal as a framework. The group says any reaction to the "most severe recession in the post-war era" needs to be based on solidarity and sustainability to avoid the "very real threat" of locking in carbon-intensive economic structures and "destabilising the European project as a whole." The organisations stress that an increased 2030 EU climate target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent is "essential to provide credible guidance to the markets”.

26 May - Germany/EU

Ahead of the European Commission unveiling its coronavirus recovery plan, the German industry association BDI has said supporting growth must be the focus of the European Green Deal. “This includes building modernisation, investment in smart and sustainable mobility and low-cost renewable energies,” said BDI managing director Joachim Lang. He called for reformed state aid rules that bring together ambitious climate action, competitiveness and additional investments also at times of crisis.

25 May - Germany

Environment ministry study says local authorities key to green recovery - Enabling green investments by local authorities faced with a steep drop in tax income due to the pandemic must be central to a green recovery programme in Germany, according a study commissioned by the country's environment ministry (BMU). "Decisive investments in climate protection take place in the municipalities, from public transport and new cycle paths to the renovation of municipal buildings," environment minister Svenja Schulze said at the presentation of the study. "The way out of the crisis will depend on whether municipalities can continue to invest. I therefore advocate not only a rescue fund for municipalities, but also an investment programme for municipal climate protection."

The German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE) has published a position paper on the main features of a sustainable economic stimulus programme. It argues that the energy transition has been a de facto economic stimulus programme for the power sector, and it can turn into one for other economic sectors. The paper calls for abolishing hurdles for renewables expansion to spur investments and reducing taxes and levies on power prices. The German government should use its EU Council presidency in the second half of 2020 to support the Green Deal, the BEE adds.

22 May - Germany

The German Council of Economic Experts (Wirtschaftsweise) is calling for a reform of energy prices as one of three key measures to help support both the economic recovery and structural change following the coronavirus crisis. In an op-ed in Süddeutsche Zeitung, the economists call for lowering the electricity tax to the EU minimum and decreasing the renewables levy beyond what is already planned by the government. A low power price would support the transformation to a more climate-friendly energy system and increase households’ available budgets, particularly those with low incomes, they write.

20 May - Germany

The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) has presented a 15-point green recovery plan. UBA says tax relief should be provided for environmentally friendly technologies such as the use of renewable energies in the transport sector or resource-saving behaviour. In the long term, the share of environmental taxes in total tax revenues should increase so that the costs of environmental damage are more heavily charged to the polluters and not to wider society. The UBA also advises a gradual reduction of environmentally harmful subsidies – for example, insufficient taxation of diesel or tax exemptions for kerosene.

11 May  Germany/EU

"While the German minister Altmaier is still talking about a general subsidy, the French government is already saying that scrappage programmes must be environmentally friendly," Frans Timmermans, executive vice president of the European Commission, told the ARD's Tagesschau. Timmermans said the argument that it would be an unacceptable message for Europe's children if the continent were to "get extra debt but no clean world and no ecologically responsible policy" may convince the German public and politicians of the importance of a climate-friendly recovery.

5 May – EU/Global

Green COVID-19 recovery packages would boost economic growth as well as mitigate climate change, according to an analysis by economists at the University of Oxford. The economists found that long-term, climate-friendly stimulus policies are often superior in overall economic impact. The authors identified five policies with high potential to boost economic growth and mitigate climate change: clean physical infrastructure, building efficiency retrofits, investment in education and training, natural capital investment and clean research and development.

5 May – EU/Global

"Leveraging COVID-19 recovery programs to simultaneously advance the climate agenda presents a strategic opportunity to transition toward a more sustainable post–COVID-19 world," write University of Toronto and ETH Zurich researchers Daniel Rosenbloom and Jochen Markand in an editorial in the journal Science. Strategies could involve using recovery funds to stimulate innovation for the low-carbon energy transition, building on social changes catalysed by the pandemic and harnessing disruption to accelerate the decline of carbon-intensive industries, technologies and practices, they write.

4 May - EU/Germany

In responding to the coronavirus crisis, governments must balance between short-term economic aid and long-term resilience and competitiveness, writes WWF Germany in a position paper on emerging from the crisis with sustainable economic growth. The NGO proposes that state aid should be linked to corporate climate targets in line with the 1.5°C objective of the Paris Agreement, a clear link to EU taxonomy, and transparent reporting on the achievement of objectives.

30 April - Global

The experience of the 2008/09 financial crisis shows that climate-oriented economic stimulus measures not only lead to economic growth and jobs in the short term, but also create the basis for long-term innovation and climate-friendly economic development, said the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW). Back then, only about 13 percent of German government support was used in green sectors – most in energetic modernisation of buildings, which the DIW sees as an effective measure to create jobs and reduce emissions at the same time.

29 April - EU/Germany

Eleven of Germany’s sixteen state environment ministers – those who are members of the Green Partyhave written a letter to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, calling on her to put the Green Deal at the centre of the coronavirus recovery efforts. “We’re convinced that the temptation to put off difficult transformation processes in the face of the crisis must be resisted,” they wrote.

29 April - EU

The aftermath of the coronavirus crisis will add to the financial stress of EU steelmakers, making stimulus packages to support green steel transformation an even greater imperative, said consultancy Roland Berger in a study on decarbonising steel production.

29 April - EU

The economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis must be the focus of the German EU Council presidency in the second half of 2020, with the European Green Deal as the key growth strategy, the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) has said.

29 April - Germany

The German government must provide urgent support to the country's green start-ups if it does not want to risk losing an important engine for a sustainable economic recovery, says the Green Startup Monitor by the Borderstep Institute and the German Startups Association.

29 April - Germany

A coronavirus recovery programme would provide the opportunity to give a push to the project of a future-proof industry with the connected jobs and value chains in Germany, wrote Jörg Hofmann, head of the Industrial Union of Metalworkers (IG Metall), the country's biggest labour union, in an op-ed in Die Welt. The country should spare no effort and promising business areas were apparent, “from the energy transition, the industrial use of green hydrogen, the expansion of rail infrastructure and the power grid, the use of synthetic fuels in air, sea and heavy goods transport, to the mega-project of converting our passenger car fleets to climate-friendly drive systems and the expansion of battery cell production.”

28 April - EU

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised to put the European Green Deal at the centre of the EU’s recovery plan.

28 April - Germany

Ministers from 30 countries debated possibilities of a green recovery at the 11th Petersberg Climate Conference. Environment minister Svenja Schulze said the summit had shown that many countries are already preparing measures to boost the economy after the crisis and are keeping climate action and the protection of ecosystems in mind when doing so.

28 April - Germany

Sustainable transport association VCD has published a proposal for a sustainable stimulus programme in transport, calling for a public transport emergency programme to compensate lost revenues, increased funds to modernise rail transport, the expansion of bicycle and pedestrian transport and an accelerated expansion of a public charging infrastructure for e-cars. VCD has also joined a call by a group of associations who say that a buyer’s premium for new passenger cars should only be granted for emission-free, battery-electric cars.

28 April - Germany

German media comment on the idea of a green recovery from the coronavirus crisis, saying these present a “great opportunity” to push climate action and an opportunity to make its economy future proof and thus revamp the infamous slogan “Made in Germany”

27 April - Germany

Germany’s top politicians, companies throw weight behind green stimulus - Top politicians from Germany and more than 60 large companies have warned that the climate crisis must continue to be a top priority, even as the world economies grapple with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Ahead of this week’s digital Petersberg Climate Dialogue, environment minister Svenja Schulze said the Paris Agreement should remain the “compass” for the economic recovery after the current crisis. Chancellor Angela Merkel made clear that climate action would continue to play an important role during the German EU Council presidency and pointed to the current dry spell in the country. In a joint statement, companies from all sectors called for making the economy more resilient with a climate-friendly stimulus programme.

27 April - EU

Ottmar Edenhofer, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), advocates a European fund to stimulate large investments in sustainable, climate-friendly projects for the period after the corona crisis. Edenhofer told the Handelsblatt newspaper that "it is important to set up a very long-term investment fund at European level, which issues government bonds with an interest rate of perhaps one percent and an extremely long maturity - for example 50 years".

27 April - Germany

Environment minister Schulze said any government support for Lufthansa after an initial rescue package must incorporate climate action.

24 April  Germany / EU

The European Union’s planned coronavirus “recovery fund” should be used to make substantial investments in the future, said German chancellor Angela Merkel at a press briefing following a video conference with fellow European leaders on 23 April. Europe’s economic recovery efforts "will not just be a question of simply carrying on as we did before the pandemic," she continued. “This is directly related to what needs to be done in terms of climate action, innovative mobility concepts and digitalisation.” In a speech in parliament earlier that day, which largely focussed on tackling the immediate health crisis, the long-time leader, who has in the past been called “climate chancellor”, had made no mention of a green recovery.

24 April  EU / Global

The Petersberg Climate Dialogue on 27-28 April will focus on "sustainable recovery" in response to the coronavirus crisis, the German environment ministry has said in a press release. Ministers are to debate "how countries can proceed with ambitious climate action despite the postponement of [United Nations climate conference] COP26" and organise economic recovery after the acute coronavirus crisis management. "The goal is green recovery," writes the ministry.

23 April – Germany

Government support for the German car industry should not lose sight of the fight against climate change, according to economy minister Peter Altmaier. "We must also help the car industry to overcome the collapse of economies around the world," Altmaier told the newspaper Passauer Neue Presse according to a report by dpa newswire carried by Focus Online. "This is only possible with new and innovative solutions that will ultimately lead to us achieving the German government's climate targets faster and better," he added.

22 April EU

The European Council presents a roadmap for an economic recovery, which states that the Green Deal will be essential as an inclusive and sustainable growth strategy. "The Green transition and the Digital transformation will play a central and priority role in relaunching and modernising our economy," the document says.

22 April Germany / Global

German chancellor Angela Merkel must use the Petersberg Climate Dialogue (PCD 11) on 27-28 April to make clear that now – amid the coronavirus crisis – is the moment to “rebuild better”, says Greenpeace International head Jennifer Morgan. “As the host, chancellor Merkel has a unique responsibility,” Morgan told journalists in an online briefing.

21 April – Germany

A group of businesses, environmental NGOs and energy industry associations have called on chancellor Angela Merkel to use the economic recovery amid the coronavirus crisis as a “unique chance to modernise and transform [the economy] in a socio-ecologic way.” “You have it in your hands to use the forced economic pause by Covid-19 for a sustainable restart of our economy,” they wrote in an open letter. “Germany must take on a pioneer role in Europe and the world in this regards.”

21 April – EU

European business lobby association Eurochambres urged the EU to gear the implementation of the Green Deal towards providing companies with best possible support to achieve the necessary recovery, as well as towards measures to help businesses innovate and invest in climate and environmental protection. “Measures leading to higher costs for companies must be put on hold and reassessed against the background of the economic shock caused by the pandemic, the group said in an input for the EU recovery roadmap and action plan.

20 April – Global

Governments should ensure that their much-needed support for economic recovery does not undermine efforts to limit threats from climate change and environmental degradation, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said. Those threats could be as destabilising to societies and economies as the virus, but on a different time scale. Short-term support measures should avoid unintended harmful environmental impact, recovery plans should not roll back environmental regulation, sector-specific support should ideally be conditional on environmental improvements and overall, the plans should aim to increase environmental health in order to strengthen societies’ resilience, the OECD said.

20 April - Global

"Stimulus and recovery packages should accelerate the shift to sustainable, decarbonised economies," writes the International Renewable Energy Agency's (IRENA) in its 2020 Global Renewables Outlook. In response to the coronavirus crisis, governments should invest in flexible power grids, efficiency solutions, electric vehicle (EV) charging systems, energy storage, interconnected hydropower, green hydrogen and many other clean energy technologies, proposes IRENA. The 2020 outlook estimates that 2.7 million jobs could be created in the EU's renewable energy sector by 2050. Transforming the global energy system to one largely based on renewable sources could increase GDP by an average of USD 3,000 per person per year in the EU until 2050, the report says.

20 April - Germany

It would be irresponsible if stimulus programs are not aligned, or worse collide, with agreed climate targets, says Germany's Sustainable Finance Committee. "Economic stimulus packages should therefore be based on the approaches of the European Commission including among others the Net-Zero 2050 goal, the multi-year EU financial framework, including the European Green Deal and the Sustainable Finance Action Plan, as well as the Taxonomy Regulation." The Committee also proposes issuing green bonds at national and EU level.

17 April - EU

The European Commission is reviewing its 2020 work programme in light of the coronavirus crisis. Although climate policies remain broadly on track, other initiatives under the European Green Deal are being delayed because they are considered “less essential,” reports Euractiv.

17 April - EU

The impact of the pandemic has raised concerns that EU efforts to lower emissions could be derailed, but analysts and stakeholders generally agree on the continued relevance of decarbonisation strategies, according to a briefing by the European Parliament's research service. Most argue that green investments from public and private sources must play a central role in any economic recovery plan.

17 April - Germany

The energy transition must remain high on the political agenda and become a focus of recovery efforts, according to German states and utilities. In a position paper for a meeting of state energy ministers in May, North Rhine-Westphalia suggests to make the expansion of Germany's power grid and renewable energies part of an economic stimulus package.

16 April - EU

Replacing old and polluting infrastructure with a modern, clean and efficient one across all sectors would create many more jobs and increase GDP more significantly than continuing "the old way," write EU Commission vice president Frans Timmermans and Bertrand Piccard, founder and chairman of the Solar Impulse Foundation, in an op-ed for Euractiv. "This is why it is a false contradiction to say that the Green Deal is a luxury we cannot afford."

15 April - Global

A statement by G20 finance ministers and central bank governors says the group commits to support an "environmentally sustainable and inclusive" recovery"We will be guided by a sense of shared, long-term responsibility for our planet and citizens consistent with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,our national and local development strategies, and relevant international commitments," the statement reads.

15 April - Germany

Three German states with a strong car industry presence call for additional support for the sector in order to help it survive the corona crisis. Baden-Württemberg, where Daimler and Porsche are based; Bavaria,the home of BMW, and VW base Lower Saxony have "outbid each other" with proposals, according to a report in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

15 April - Germany

The German Petroleum Industry Association (MWV) urges the government to ramp up the use of synthetic fuels in the mobility sector during the "economic restart" that will follow the corona crisis. Together with the Hamburg Institute for Heating and Oil Technology, the oil industry lobby group calls the government to expand its support of "renewable fuels" and also advocate a large-scale introduction at the European level.

14 April - Global

The World Bank has developed a draft sustainability checklist governments can use to assess or rank stimulus proposals. "Is the intervention consistent with and supportive of existing long-term decarbonization targets and strategies?," the paper asks. "Does the intervention create or amplify a lock-in of carbon-or energy-intensive development patterns, or represent a future stranded asset risk due to decarbonization, technology change or other market trends?"

14 April - Germany

Germany's national academy of sciences, the Leopoldina, stresses the need for a climate-friendly coronavirus recovery in a report recommending a gradual reopening of public and private institutions. Economic stimulus packages to facilitate long-term recovery should be generally consistent with the aims of the European Green Deal, the scientists say. Prior to its publication, Chancellor Angela Merkel said the academy's report would provide important guidance for the government's decision-making.

14 April - Germany

Carmaker BMW proposes the introduction of an "innovation premium" for car buyers to help the industry overcome the impacts of the coronavirus and accelerate the switch to climate-friendly mobility. Volkswagen manager Stefan Sommer says investments are needed in both the industry and to enable consumers to afford the cars.

14 April – EU

European politicians, CEOs, and environmental activists publish an open letter calling for international 'Green Recovery Investment Packages' to establish more sustainable economy in wake of the crisis.

11/14 April - Germany

The coronavirus crisis calls for an urgent review of Germany's climate targets under goals set by the European Union, the leader of the economic council of the conservative Christian Democrat party (CDU) says. Deputy CDU/CSU parliamentary group leader Andreas Jung rejects such calls. "We must not make the same mistake as in previous crises and weaken climate action in the face of other extraordinary issues," he tells dpa.

9 April - EU

The Green Deal “must be central to a resilient recovery after COVID-19,” EU environment ministers write in an opinion piece published on Climate Home News, a specialised information site. “The Green Deal provides us with a roadmap to make the right choices in responding to the economic crisis while transforming Europe into a sustainable and climate neutral economy,” the ministers write.

8 April - Germany

In a position paper, Environmental Action Germany calls for EU and national investments in renewables, efficient buildings and green hydrogen.

7 April - EU

According to WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson, wind power can play an important role in leading Europe out of the expected recession following the coronavirus outbreak. "Renewable energies and the European Green Deal are the motor for Europe’s recovery. They create growth. They secure jobs. They’re key to our technological leadership towards a climate-neutral economy," he argues.

Environmental activists urge the EU to bring building "renovation wave" into coronavirus recovery plan.

6 April – EU

The President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen calls for “Marshall Plan” for Europe amid coronavirus crisis.

Any stimulus programme the German government introduces amid the coronavirus crisis should “contribute to building a climate-neutral economy,” writes environment minister Svenja Schulze in a message on Twitter. The Social Democrat told weekly magazine Der Spiegel that an economy based fully on renewable energy has to remain the focus. “Of course, we will have to design economic stimulus packages in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis in such a way that they help us master future challenges facing our economy,” she said.

3 April - Germany

The German car industry urges the government to back its efforts to make the EU drop a planned tightening of emission limits on cars, reports Süddeutsche Zeitung. Leading industry and trade union representatives met with Chancellor Angela Merkel, economy minister Peter Altmaier and transport minister Andreas Scheuer on 1 April for a crisis meeting in light of the economic difficulties car manufacturers are facing due to the coronavirus. "This not the time to think about further tightening of the CO₂ regulation," Hildegard Müller, president of in the influential carmaker lobby group VDA later said.

31 March - Germany

Four bioenergy industry associations have called for changes in regulation and temporary exemptions to cushion corona crisis-related burdens on the sector. "Many plant operators are currently struggling with additional difficulties caused by the pandemic,” said Sandra Rostek, head of the joint sector association Hauptstadtbüro Bioenergie. “We urgently need pragmatic regulations to mitigate these burdens, because bioenergy contributes significantly to the basic energy supply.”

30 March – European Union

EU leaders call for "coordinated" approach to coronavirus built around investment in Green Deal

Utilities association BDEW says it welcomes the German government's rescue package in response to the coronavirus crisis. The package allows small businesses to suspend payments for energy supplies until the end of June in the event of economic difficulties caused by the pandemic, among other measures. Many large and small utilities had already declared they would suspend cut-offs for private households during the crisis, said BDEW. The association, however, warned that it could significantly affect the power and water industry's liquidity if many companies suspend payments for several months.

27 March – Germany

The current difficulties caused by the coronavirus outbreak must not be allowed to obscure the fact that Germany's wind power industry faces much deeper challenges that long predate the health crisis, industry association BWE has said. It stated that the latest onshore wind power auction in Germany once again had too few bidders, with only 151 megawatts (MW) awarded out of the 300 MW available. The average bid required government support of 6.07 cents per kilowatt hour. Due to the corona crisis, the results were communicated by the network agency BNetzA to the bidders individually, which allows for the suspension of certain deadlines that apply once the results are publicly available. "The corona crisis must not overshadow the political gridlock the industry has been facing for a long time," BWE head Hermann Albers said. He argued that the expansion slump in onshore wind power has preoccupied the industry since 2018 and a comprehensive attempt at a solution was already proposed last October. "The economy ministry's list of tasks is gathering dust. And the list of problems keeps getting longer," Albers said. He added that the removal of bureaucratic hurdles by the BNetzA earlier this week showed quick responses are possible and can help to stabilise local economies during the crisis: "Our industry doesn't need money to get going again, but merely administrative support."

Germany's largest carmaker, VW, has extended the suspension of car production at its German plants in a bid to cushion the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Thousands of companies in the country have introduced 'short-time' work for their employees in order limit the damage to their businesses.

The virus's outbreak is likely to cause a massive reduction in Germany's industrial output and is set to largely paralyse economic activity for at least several weeks. While this is expected to reduce carbon emissions, the trend is likely to be short-lived and may be followed by a rebound that will offset any CO₂ savings. This has led observers to call for a "green stimulus package" that ensures business resumes without compromising environmental objectives.

26 March - Germany

Emissions reductions due to the coronavirus crisis cannot be considered good news, according to climate researcher Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). "Nobody can be happy about any positive climate effect now, since the price we're paying for this is unbelievably high. That's due to a collapsing economy, the individual and social costs and especially to the human suffering caused by this pandemic," Schellnhuber told Frankfurter Rundschau, adding there was "no other way that is more expensive to save CO₂." He called on policymakers not to let environmental action policies such as the EU's Green Deal fall behind, as measures to contain the virus and its economic impact take precedence on political agendas.

24 March - Germany

Parts of the roughly 40 billion euros that Germany's government currently has earmarked for supporting coal mining regions during the fossil fuel phase-out should be channelled into a green stimulus package to help energy companies weather the coronavirus outbreak, says energy industry federation BEE. The organisation’s head Simone Peter said companies and employees need assistance "at a large scale" and called on the government to convert "at least" 4.3 billion euros planned for decommissioning premium payments for coal plant operators into investment premiums, as well as removing other existing hurdles for wind, solar and bioenergy in order to stabilise renewable energy companies. She argued that "by no means should the money go to shareholders or associates" of the coal companies. Instead, she says they should be invested in renewable power installations, as this would ensure that support money becomes effective locally while simultaneously helping to guarantee a secure decentralised power supply for the country.

Around 2,000 companies from Germany's solar power and wider energy industry have signed a letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel calling for an immediate removal of the looming support cap for new solar PV installations. According to the signees, which include solar power association BSW and energy industry group BDEW, the legal process to do away with the cap of 52 gigawatts (GW) total installed capacity needs to be started as quickly as possible. The letter argues that the limit value could already be attained this summer, and that removing the cap would not only be an "easy" measure to quell the economic impact of the current coronavirus outbreak but is also needed to avoid a "carelessly induced" expansion stop for solar power.

An extension to wind farm implementation deadlines has been welcomed by Germany's wind power industry as the impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak begins to disrupt supply chains and delay construction across Europe. The "pragmatic" approach by Germany's grid agency BNetzA to extend deadlines that are a prerequisite for support payments under the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) shows that policymakers can quickly respond to obvious challenges, says Hermann Albers, head of wind power association BWE.

23 March – Germany

Energy providers in Germany have said they will not cut off defaulting customers' electricity supply in the near future due to the exceptional situation caused by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. According to an article by Jakob Schland in the Tagesspiegel, almost all member companies of local utility association VKU said they would not interrupt supplies of electricity, natural gas and water for households with outstanding payments. VKU head Michael Wübbels said utilities should provide their services to citizens without interruption during a pandemic. Utility company EnBW also announced it will not block its customers' access to electricity and gas and will also reverse power cuts that entered into effect over the past weeks. "Nobody must be without electricity during this crisis," the company said on its website.

19 March – Germany / European Union

The economic crisis caused in Germany by the coronavirus has led to the first calls to postpone the country's CO₂ price for heating and transport, which is scheduled to enter into force next year. Gerald Ullrich, a parliamentarian from the opposition pro-business FDP party, told the newswire dpa it would be "irresponsible" to start charging 25 euros per tonne from 2021 and 55 euros by 2025 given the economic slump.

As European governments race to prepare economic rescue plans in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, they should use the European Green Deal as a road map for where and how to target investments, Laurence Tubiana, head of the European Climate Foundation* and an architect of the Paris Climate Agreement, told reporters in a press briefing. “We can absolutely address this short-term economic crisis, at the same time making the right choices that don’t lock in the economy of Europe to the fossil fuel economy,” Tubiana said. If governments do not use stimulus funding to invest in a green economy, it will represent a wasted opportunity, Tubiana explained, adding that it will likely be harder to fund climate policy after the crisis, when budgets are tighter.

In an open letter to EU officials, the consortium of German and European foundations also called for any economic stimulus to adhere to climate targets. The 14 signatories, which include Tubiana’s European Climate Foundation, the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU), WWF Germany and Stiftung Mercator*, are part of the F20 foundations initiative to support sustainable development and climate action. The authors write that the EU must speed up its plans to develop a new 2030 climate target, and they say the swift government response to the coronavirus should be a model for action on climate change.

18 March – G20

Coronavirus economic stimulus packages being drawn up by govts around the world should build-in “large scale” spending on clean energy technologies, said IEA chief Fatih Birol

17 March - Germany

Germany's national solar power lobby group BSW has warned that the coronavirus outbreak could have a severe impact on the expansion of renewable power technology in the country. Major projects could lose their eligibility for support if legal deadlines are not met due to supply bottlenecks for solar panel components as well as staff shortages at construction and building authorities. BSW Solar head Carsten Körnig called on the government to extend implementation deadlines for solar power projects, arguing that "force majeure events like this one must not lead to the failure of valuable climate projects and threaten companies in their existence.”

16 March - Germany

The head of Germany's environmental protection agency UBA, Dirk Messner, said it will be important to ensure that all support measures for the economy are designed with climate targets in mind. "We should opt for green stimulus packages," he said, explaining that this could, for example, include energy-efficient building renovation, the roll-out of electric vehicles and more public transport options, as well as a greater focus on hydrogen-based fuels for industry applications.

 

*Clean Energy Wire, like Agora Energiewende, is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.

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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