31 Aug 2018, 13:58
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Coal commission could overrun schedule - report / Fair climate policy

Tagesspiegel Background

The commission tasked with planning Germany’s coal exit could extend its negotiations well into 2019, although it is scheduled to deliver ideas for quick emissions reduction and an end date for coal-fired power production by December this year. According to the energy policy newsletter Tagesspiegel Background, several of the commission’s members said that keeping the schedule was “absolutely impossible,” while others said they were more optimistic.  The commission started its work in June, one and a half years after it had first been announced in Germany’s Climate Action Plan 2050.

See the CLEW factsheet on Germany’s coal exit commission for more information.

Rheinische Post

Armin Laschet, premier of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany’s largest federal state, is not willing to act as a mediator in the negotiations between environmental activists and the energy company RWE over the clearing of a forest near the Hambach lignite mine, the Rheinische Post reports. The conservative (CDU) state premier said that RWE had the right to decide when to start cutting down trees to make room for its nearby open pit coal mine, the largest in Germany. He stressed that the former left-green (SPD and Green Party) government had issued the license for mine expansion and that neither NRW’s parliament nor the government currently questioned the status quo. He also rejected proposals for a moratorium until the end of the German coal exit commission’s work, scheduled for December. NRW police union (GdP) leader Michael Mertens told the newspaper that the conflict surrounding the Hambach Forest could escalate once clearing work begins, estimating that up to 1,000 policemen per day will be needed to shield forest workers from protesters.

Read the article in German here

See the CLEW article Logging row continues to weigh on coal commission’s work for background and CLEW’S Commission watch for constant updates on the body’s work.

Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung

The designated new economy and energy minister of the German federal state of Brandenburg, Jörg Steinbach, is likely to keep the pro-coal stance of his predecessor, Albrecht Gerber, who announced his resignation on 21 August citing private reasons, Igor Göldner writes in the Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung. The new minister of the state that plays an important role for Germany’s coal exit, said he considered debates about an end date for coal-fired power production “short sighted.” Steinbach, who until recently headed the University of Cottbus and is not a member of any political party, said that renaturation measures in former coal mining regions had to be financed somehow, and warned against reducing the coal debate to monetary or technical questions. “There’s a human component here that no one should underestimate,” and people in the affected regions needed a clear economic perspective, he said.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet on Germany’s coal exit commission for more information.


Due to its apparent lack of will to achieve a consensus, the mandate of Germany’s coal exit commission should be annulled and the government itself should find a consensus on how to end coal-fired power production in the country, Angela Hennersdorf writes in an opinion piece in the WirtschaftsWoche. Several members of the coal commission who come from environmental organisations have shown their unequivocal support to the anti-coal protesters in the Hambach Forest, while the energy company RWE remains unwilling to discuss the contested clearing of the forest to make room for expanding a nearby coal mine. Hennersdorf says the rivalling factions “have learned nothing from the past,” when similar clashes between environmentalists and the energy industry in Germany had led to disputes that lasted for years on end. “Some decisions must not be delegated to a colourful but irreconcilable bunch of interest groups. The decisive task of countering climate change is one such decision,” she says.

Find the opinion piece in German here (paywall).

See the CLEW article Logging row continues to weigh on coal commission’s work for background and CLEW’S Commission watch for constant updates on the body’s work.

German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU)

Climate policy must take into account all the affected people, empower them, hold those responsible for climate change accountable, and create both global and national prospects for the future, according to the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). The government advisors propose four examples for fair climate policy initiatives, including providing support for regions in transition, as well as for those most affected by climate change, and creating humane and dignified migration options for people who are forced to leave their native countries due to climate change. “If climate protection and fairness are not linked in our society – a struggle currently dealt with in the coal exit commission – then we have no legitimacy to set ambitious climate goals,” said Dirk Messner, co-head of the WBGU. The federal government set up the independent scientific WBGU in 1992 to advise it on global environmental and development-related issues.  

Find the policy paper in English here.

For background on Germany’s exit from coal, read CLEW’s coal commission watch.

Clean Energy Wire

German environment minister Svenja Schulze backs Chancellor Angela Merkel position on the European Commission’s proposal to raise the 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target. “We have set goals for 2020, which we will not reach. To then say ‘we will set even more ambitious goals’ is not easy in a political discussion,” Schulze said at a press conference in Berlin. Germany must act “more modestly” in this regard, as it is no longer a climate protection pioneer. “I think we must first do our homework and prove that we’re able to reach our goals.” Germany needs to win back its role as a leader by showing that a transformation is possible without social disruption, and by introducing a climate protection law. The minister said she is optimistic that the government would succeed in introducing this law, which will show how to reach the targets in the individual sectors. In the past, other ministries had left the environment ministry alone much too often when it came to the implementation of environmental protection measures. “It will be hard work and we need everyone’s help.” Schulze also addressed the ongoing work of the coal exit commission. “If we succeed in describing a coal exit path together with our coal regions, this could be a role model for many regions around the world. So we have an international responsibility,” she said.

For background, read CLEW’s coal commission watch, and the dossier The energy transition and climate change.


Major German power companies have protected themselves against the sharp increase in ETS carbon emission prices, report Vera Eckert and Nina Chestney for Reuters newswire. RWE has said that its CO2 position is financially hedged until the end of 2022. Rival Uniper said the ETS price rise will force inefficient coal plants out of the market, but added that it had factored in significant price increases for carbon, coal, and gas-fired power generation in the coming years.
Carbon permit prices traded under the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) have almost trebled to over 21 euros per tonne this year due to higher energy prices and measures to reduce the supply of permits.

Read the article in English here.

For background, read the article Rising CO2-price could trigger German coal phase-out in 5 years and the factsheet Understanding the European Union’s Emissions Trading System.

Spiegel Online

The leader of Germany’s junior government coalition partner SPD, Andrea Nahles, has attacked the Green Party, in parliamentary opposition, for pursuing a climate policy “that does not care about people in coal regions,” Veit Medick writes on Spiegel Online. Nahles said the Green Party, which currently enjoys unprecedented support levels in polls, is pursuing a climate policy “in which the state orders the shutdown of coal plants” but leaves people in the affected regions to their own devices. While nobody denies that coal-fired power production cannot go on forever, the SPD is not available for an “unfair attack on lignite” [brown coal]. 
The SPD, together with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU-CSU alliance, decided in 2016 to set up a commission to plan the end of coal-fired power generation in Germany.

Read the article in German here.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Chinese car producer Chery prepares for entering the European market with a purely electric car produced near Frankfurt in Germany, Hendrik Ankenbrand writes in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Chen Anning, CEO of the state-owned Chinese carmaker, said “China has the world’s biggest e-car market and is also the overall number one in e-car development.” The company therefore “wants to use its advantage to beat European competitors in their home markets,” Chen said. While German companies talk a lot about electric mobility, so far they have delivered very little, he added. According to the company, Chery is already hiring “important experts” from the German car industry and could attempt a market entry “by 2020 or later.”

Read the article in German here (paywall).

See the CLEW articles Chinese-German battery cell deal key step for mobility transition and the dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers for more information.

Welt Online

An agreement reached by Japan and China to set up a common standard for e-car charging technology could topple the Combined Charging System technology pushed for by German car companies, Welt Online reports. Japanese consortium Chademo and the China Electricity Council (CEC) want to develop a more powerful charging technology with a capacity beyond 500 kilowatts (KW) that would be capable of fully charging even the largest e-car batteries within just a few minutes and is supposed to be ready by 2020. “The Sino-Japanese cooperation shifts the balance of power in the automotive industry,” the article says. If this new technology becomes dominant in China at the expense of the Combined Charging System, “this would reduce [the German companies’] prospect of becoming a world market leader.”

Read the article in German here.

For background, read the dossier The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector and the article Economy minister Altmaier calls for mobility transition push.

Frankfurter Rundschau

Bringing down emission levels in the transport sector is set to become the German “society’s next major conflict,” Thorsten Knuf writes in an opinion piece in the Frankfurter Rundschau. A recent study conducted by the think tank Agora Verkehrswende* demonstrated that tighter EU emissions limits for new cars are a necessity, but represent only a partial step that urgently needs to be taken in order to meet the Paris Climate Agreement’s requirements – and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made it clear that she already rejects even this minimum measure as it appears to be too ambitious, he says. The transport ministry (BMVI) is currently working on setting up a transport commission, patterned on Germany’s coal exit commission, which is supposed to find solutions for making transport in Germany more efficient. The conclusions of this new transport commission will heavily affect carmakers, the country’s most important industry branch. “Transport minister [Andreas] Scheuer knows how explosive this topic can become in car country Germany,” Knuf says.

*Like Agora Energiewende and the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Verkehrswende is funded by the 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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