21 Nov 2016, 00:00
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Climate Plan implies coal exit - minister / Merkel seeks 4th term

A coal phase-out for Germany is implied in the federal government’s Climate Action Plan 2050, environment minister Barbara Hendricks told Susanne Götze and Susanne Schwarz in an interview for “If you read the Climate Action Plan carefully, you will find that the exit from coal-fired power generation is the immanent consequence of the energy sector target. […] By 2030 – that clearly follows from the Plan – half of the coal-fired power production must have ended, compared to 2014,” said Hendricks.

Read the interview in German here.

For background read the CLEW factsheet Germany’s Climate Action Plan 2050 and the CLEW article Coal exit dispute delays Germany’s Climate Action Plan.

Rheinische Post

The decision of 48 poorer countries to terminate coal-fired power production has sparked calls for Germany to envisage a speedy coal exit as well, the Rheinische Post newspaper reports. The announcement of the Climate Vulnerable Forum’s countries at the COP22 in Morocco to switch to 100 percent renewables by 2050 demonstrated that Germany was being “outpaced by more and more countries”, Martin Kaiser, from Greenpeace Germany, told the newspaper. He called for a German coal exit by 2030. The German Green Party’s climate spokesperson Annalena Baerbock said concrete deadlines for the coal industry “also need to be included in Germany’s Climate Action Plan”, according to the newspaper. Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary in the environment ministry (BMUB), said the coal exit perhaps needed to be done “sooner than some might think”, the Rheinische Post reported.

Read the article in German here.

For background on the role of the coal industry for Germany’s climate protection targets read the CLEW article Coal exit dispute delays Germany’s Climate Action Plan.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

The Paris Climate Agreement would never have been approved so quickly without the looming threat of a Donald Trump presidency, writes Michael Bauchmüller in a commentary in Süddeutsche Zeitung. But his election now throws a dark shadow over current efforts to protect the climate. “The good news: Even Trump won’t be able to stop the technological change, not even within his own country. Climate protection has become big business.”

Read the commentary in German here.

Die Welt

If the goal is to limit global greenhouse gas emissions, it is inefficient to break this down into individual national targets, writes Christoph M. Schmidt of Rhineland-Westphalia Institute for Economic Research (RWI Essen) in a guest commentary in Die Welt. The aim has to be to “save the next tonne of greenhouse gas emissions wherever the reduction cost is lowest”, and share the cost globally, according to Schmidt. He says that the German government should make use of its G-20 presidency to achieve a “global solution” for climate policy efforts.  

Read the guest commentary in German here.


German chancellor Angela Merkel will seek a fourth term in office in next year’s federal parliamentary elections. She faces a tough campaign unlike any other she has fought in an “increasingly polarised” country, Merkel announced in Berlin. “The decision […] after 11 years in office is anything but trivial; neither for the country, or the party, nor – and I specifically say it in this order – for me personally,” Merkel said at a press conference. 

Read a New York Times article about the announcement in English here.

Read more in the CLEW factsheet The making of "Climate Chancellor" Angela Merkel.

Find background on the run up to the federal elections in the CLEW dossier Vote2017 - German elections and the Energiewende, continuously being updated.

tageszeitung (taz)

Fiscal instruments should complement Energiewende efforts to fight populist criticism that climate protection was a luxury at the expense of the regular citizen, writes Bernhard Pötter in an opinion piece for tageszeitung (taz). “If citizens received a cheque labelled “Many thanks, your environment!” just before Christmas, people would see that ecologic and social policy pays off. Then, climate protectors would not have to tremble in fear of populists,” writes Pötter.

Frankfurter Allgemeine

Daimler employees producing conventional engines, gearboxes and other components feel unsettled by the company’s push into e-mobility despite record sales, reports Susanne Preuß in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Michael Brecht, head of the company’s works council, told the paper more information was needed on the effects of Daimler’s e-car offensive on employment. Daimler employs 30,000 people who produce components for combustion technology. The company assumes that only one in seven of these employees will remain once the entire fleet is electrified, said Brecht, according to the article.

Read the article in German here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet Reluctant Daimler plans “radical” push into new mobility world and the dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.

Frankfurter Allgemeine

Slow sales of e-cars are caused by a lack of demand, not supply, VW CEO Matthias Müller told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung in an interview. “On the one hand, many Germans think and act green in their day-to-day lives, but when it comes to e-mobility, consumers are reticent,” Müller said. Renate Künast, former Green minister for consumer protection, called Müller’s statement “barefaced”: “No e-cars at affordable prices, no charging stations, but criticising non-buyers.”

Read the Müller interview in German here and Künast’s reaction here.

Find background in the CLEW factsheet Dieselgate forces VW to embrace green mobility.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

E-cars are already expensive, and more efficient conventional engines will also become more costly regardless of whether they use petrol or diesel, writes Joachim Becker in a commentary in Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Individual mobility will therefore become more expensive. This is why not only a change in propulsion technology seems likely, but also the way in which we use private cars.” Carsharing could bring the fundamental change required by the climate, and by congested cities.

Read the commentary in German here.

Handelsblatt Online

E.ON is positioned to overcome its current crisis and record loss following the company’s split from its conventional energy business into the subsidiary Uniper, the German utility’s CEO Johannes Teyssen told Handelsblatt Online in an interview. “Admittedly, the consequences for our balance sheet are more severe than we would have thought two years ago”, Teyssen said. But he insisted E.ON’s “core business is making a profit” and that the company’s net assets were “clearly positive”, according to German commercial law. E.ON needed “two or three years of consolidation” before the utility’s shift towards renewable energies would be completed, he added. Asked whether E.ON’s competitor RWE pursued a better strategy by channelling its renewable business into the spin-off innogy, Teyssen answered that “battle will be decided by the customer”.

Read the interview in German (behind paywall) here

For more information on E.ON' strategic overhaul, see the CLEW factsheet E.ON shareholders ratify energy giant's split.


Medium-sized businesses in Germany will have to further improve their energy efficiency in order to stay internationally competitive, according to a study by the government-owned banking institution KfW. KfW compared the competitiveness of over 2,200 small and medium-sized companies in ten of the world’s most important economies. German companies already fared “quite well” in terms of optimising their energy consumption but “additional efforts will be necessary in the light of rising energy prices in order to stay competitive and to fulfil national climate targets”, the study said.  While Germany’s medium-sized businesses overall were ranked first in the KfW’s “Competition Indicator 2016”, counterparts in the USA were “at the top” when it comes to implementing energy-efficiency measures.

Find the study in German here

Read more on energy transition and efficiency gains in the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and Efficiency.

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