01 Dec 2017, 00:00
Benjamin Wehrmann

Court to hear Peruvian farmer's case against RWE/ SUV for the climate

A court in Germany has agreed to hear Peruvian farmer and mountain guide Saúl Luciano Lliuya’s case against RWE, over the German utility’s contribution to climate change, NGO Germanwatch said in a press release. “It is the first time a court has acknowledged that a private company is in principal responsible for its part in causing climate damage,” the press release says. Germanwatch is supporting Lliuya in his legal battle against Germany’s largest electricity provider. The NGO says Lliuya’s case is “of great legal relevance” and has immediate implications for the legal responsibilities of all of the world’s major emitters. According to Lliuya’s lawyer, Roda Verheyen, “entering into evidentiary phase of this case is in itself already writing legal history”, as emitters could now be liable for compensation for damage caused by a warming global climate. The Peruvian farmer says RWE, which has been among Germany’s largest emitters for several decades, should part-finance measures to protect his village in the Andes, which is threatened by glacier-melt thought to be linked to global warming.

Read the press release in English here.

See the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and climate change for information.

Die Welt

Germany’s largest carmaker, VW, plans to release several new model heavy SUVs, bringing the share of the CO2-intense cars up to 40 percent of total sales, Nikolaus Doll reports for Die Welt. In light of stricter EU emissions limits from 2020, this strategy may seem “absurd”, Doll writes. But brand manager Herbert Diess argues sales of the high-demand vehicles will allow VW to invest over 34 billion euros in “future technologies” – mainly the development e-cars. Diess called the SUVs “our growth and profitability engine” that will generate the funds needed to “finance the transition to e-mobility”.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet Dieselgate forces VW to embrace green mobility and CLEW’s Dieselgate timeline for background.

CDU Economic Council / Süddeutsche Zeitung

The Economic Council of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU says the party should give serious consideration to a minority government, in order to avoid a new grand coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD). In a statement, the economic council said a grand coalition would only be possible if the CDU agreed to the SPD’s demands on welfare policy, which it says are “far too costly”. The council also argues that a renewal of the CDU-SPD coalition would weaken both parties, strengthening the far-right and far-left fringes of German politics. The CDU's Economic Council is no internal party organ but rather a business association positioning itself close to the CDU's economic policy principles. 
On Thursday, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with the party leaders of the CDU, its Bavarian sister party the CSU, and the SPD, to sound out a possible coalition. According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Social Democratic Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said his party would not rush into a decision on exploratory talks with the conservatives. “Nobody should expect this to happen quickly,” Gabriel said.

Read the council’s statement in German here and the article in German here.

See CLEW’s Coalition Watch and the article on Government gridlock for background.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

The government of Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), has affirmed its intention to continue felling the Hambach Forest to make way for a highly controversial lignite mine in the west German region, Christian Wernicke reports for the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Lignite mining in the Rhine area continues to be necessary,” NRW’s economy minister Andreas Pinkwart (FDP) said. During a debate in the state parliament, the Green Party called on conservative premier Armin Laschet to arbitrate between anti-coal mining protesters who have been occupying the forest for several years, and the mining company RWE, which also operates the region’s lignite-fuelled power plants. Earlier this week, a court ordered that the clearing of trees in the forest must be stopped until a pending lawsuit had been decided. The current CDU-FDP government, as well as the formerly governing SPD, are in favour of continuing mining activities in the region, Wernicke writes.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet Coal in Germany for more information.

IFW Kiel

Successful bidders in Germany’s auction system for onshore wind power projects should be subject to penalty payments if they fail to implement their accepted projects in time, Hilke Wilts and Ruth Delzeit write in a policy brief by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IFW Kiel). They says fines could ensure renewables expansion in Germany is not obstructed by citizens’ energy projects, which some industry actors fear will not pursue their projects with the same rigour as conventional bidders. “The considerable bid-price decrease over the last bidding rounds makes it practically impossible to run wind farms profitably,” the authors say, arguing that penalty payments could counteract this trend.

Find the policy brief in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet High hopes and concerns over onshore wind power auctions for background.

Federal Government

Germany passed on the presidency of the Group of Twenty major economies to Argentina on 1 December, the federal government said in a press release. Government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said the G20 had delivered important results in 2017, demonstrating that it was up to dealing with world’s current challenges. He highlighted the German presidency’s “success” in securing sustained commitment to the Paris Agreement, with all members except the United States agreeing the accord was “irreversible”. The German government says its successor has committed to continuing many of the initiatives launched under the German presidency, a position that Argentinian environment minister Sergio Bergman confirmed in an interview with the Clean Energy Wire.

Find the press release in German here.

See the CLEW interview with Argentina’s environment minister Bergman and the CLEW dossier on Germany’s G20 presidency for more information.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

A recent decision by the Danish parliament allowing a ban on construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Germany and Russia on Danish maritime territory in the Baltic Sea highlights divisions between Berlin and other European states over the controversial project, Daniel Brössler and Alexander Mühlauer write for the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The move by the Danish parliament, which could lead to a deviation of the pipeline’s course, “is not the biggest problem” for Nord Stream 2, the authors say. Several eastern European countries that fear the pipeline will bypass them as transit countries, as well as the United States, have repeatedly criticised the project. German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel told Russian business partners in St. Petersburg the German government would seek to ensure the project is implemented, despite objections from other EU member states and the European Commission. Gabriel said Russian gas company Gazprom and other companies involved in Nord Stream 2 needed “legal security”, Brössler  and Mühlauer report.

Read the article in German here.

Read other CLEW news digest items about developments on the issue here. For background, read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and its implications for international security and the CLEW factsheet Germany’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.

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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