Coalition talks "soft on carmakers" / Confidence in Germany shaken
Leaked information ahead of the last day of exploratory talks between Germany’s prospective coalition parties suggest that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democrats (SPD) will spare the country’s mighty carmakers drastic measures to reduce pollution in the sector, Nikolaus Doll writes in Die Welt. “The car industry can breathe a sigh of relief with respect to diesel cars”, as passages on transport in a working group paper were “sufficiently vague” to not impose any immediate consequences on the car companies, Doll says. Carmakers did not have to fear that costly mechanical retrofitting for older diesel cars will become mandatory, he argues. While the paper says combustion engines had to become “more efficient and cleaner including retrofits”, it does not specify how affected cars are supposed to be treated. “And that’s the point of the matter,” Doll writes. At the national diesel summit last summer, the parties decided that 5.3 million diesel cars in Germany are to receive a software update to prevent looming driving bans in inner cities but critics, such as SPD-environment minister Barbara Hendricks, say only mechanical retrofitting would lead to meaningful emissions reduction, an option “the conservatives try to spare carmakers from” as this would cost them hundreds of millions of euros, Doll writes.
Read the article in German here.
See CLEW’s dieselgate timeline for more information.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
A coalition between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and the left-leaning Social Democrats would likely mean a boon for public transport in the country, according to a report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung by Andreas Mihm and Kerstin Schwenn. Exploratory coalition talks, which are due to end on Thursday, have produced a working group paper detailing increased funding for public transport as part of an overall approach to climate protection and in keeping with Paris Agreement goals. "We will increase and dynamise the resources for the Municipal Transport Financing Act in order to reach a volume of 1 billion euros per year by the end of 2021," the parties say in the Economy/Transport working group paper. The parties also state their intention to avoid driving bans and improve air pollution control.
Read the article in German here.
Climate Home News
Germany’s reputation as a climate protection leader is slipping following reports that a coalition government between the CDU/CSU and SPD would postpone the country’s 2020 emissions target, Megan Darby writes in Climate Home News. “Experts described a draft coalition agreement that defers the goal as ‘disheartening’, ‘problematic’ and ‘very weak’,” Darby points out. The decision by “a generally constructive player casts a shadow over international efforts to tackle climate change”, which have already been weakened by US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, she adds.
Read the article in English here.
Read the CLEW report on the plan by coalition negotiators to postpone Germany’s 2020 climate target here.
Examining the decision by coalition negotiators to postpone Germany’s climate goals, Akshat Rathi, writing in Quartz, looks at both sides of the issue. On the one hand, the decision makes sense in view of Germany’s major investment in renewable energy while also shuttering zero-carbon nuclear power plants. On the other, Rathi cites critics who claim the decision damages Germany’s credibility as well as the entire international climate process. Despite the divergent views, Germany’s stumble still offers hope, he adds.
Read the article in English here.
Science Advances / Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
Rainfall is increasing due to climate change and more people will become victims of floods than previously thought in the near future, according to a new study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) published in Science Advances. Researchers are calling for greater investment in flood protection in Germany as well as many other parts of the world. The number of people at risk of flooding will increase dramatically in the next 25 years without significant investment in dike construction, altered building standards and relocations, the study found. The highest risks are in the US, parts of India and Africa, Indonesia and Central Europe, including Germany, according to the study.
Read the study here.
The Meat Atlas 2018, published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, NGO Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) and Le Monde Diplomatique, offers a damning look at industrial meat production and highlights, among other things, the danger it poses to the climate. Heinrich Böll Foundation President Barbara Unmüssig said: "Agonising, harmful to the environment, unhealthy and cheap – this is what characterises industrial animal production today. That must change urgently.” Unmüssig added that no other sector contributed so heavily to the loss of biodiversity, the destruction of the climate, over-fertilisation and health endangerment as industrial meat production. The demand for meat is expected to increase by up to 85 percent by 2050 and, without a reversal, further global warming is guaranteed.
Read the press release in German here.
The German Farmers’ Association / Germanwatch
Unveiling its Climate Strategy 2.0, the German Farmers’ Association (DBV) said climate change posed an enormous challenge for German farmers. “Like no other economic sector, agriculture and forestry are directly affected, as extreme weather events in the past year have shown,” the DBV said. "We are committed to our ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by 30 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels,” said DBV environmental officer Eberhard Hartelt. The DBV has also set additional goals of further increasing the climate efficiency of agricultural production.
The efforts failed to impress environmental group Germanwatch, which said the measures would not effectively reduce greenhouse gases in agriculture. "The farmers' association is obviously looking above all for arguments to change nothing in industrialised agriculture and the increasingly export-oriented milk and meat production," said Germanwatch’s Tobias Reichert.
Read Germanwatch’s response here.
Germany’s IG Bergbau, Chemie, Energie (IG BCE) trade union, which covers workers in the mining, chemicals and energy sectors, has welcomed the move by likely coalition partners CDU/CSU and SPD to give up on 2020 climate protection targets, Detlef Esslinger writes in Süddeutsche Zeitung. Outlining its strategy, the IG BCE said it would seek to develop and modernise electricity grids and storage facilities; push for an end to renewable energy subsidies, and replace the renewable energy surcharge with a tax-payer-funded solution; and targeted subsidies of cutting-edge technologies.
Read the article (behind paywall) in German here.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / Clean Energy Wire
Germany’s energy transition not only misses 2020 climate targets but fails on many other accounts too, according to the head of an expert commission tasked with monitoring the Energiewende’s progress. “Efficiency is a particular problem,” economist Andreas Löschel told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The development of the power grid remained below target, while power prices, electricity consumption, and emissions were too high, thus pushing the corresponding indicators “in the red”, said Löschel. Only the renewables roll-out and power supply security remain on target.
The government appointed four independent energy and economics academics to assess the progress of the Energiewende in a yearly monitoring report. The latest report is overdue. It will likely be published once a new government is sworn in, the economy ministry told the Clean Energy Wire.
For background, read the CLEW article Experts call for CO2 price to retain Energiewende’s credibility, on the previous monitoring report published in December 2016.
In an interview with Deutschlandfunk’s Jörg Münchenberg, Dieter Kempf, president of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), says reaching Germany’s 2020 target 18 months later would still be a very positive step. “I believe that the world can see very well that under the changed conditions, booming economy, therefore more energy consumption, significantly more people, therefore more energy consumption, […] a one-and-a-half-year delayed achievement of the goal would still be an excellent and exemplary achievement for many other countries.”
Read the interview in German here.