10 Oct 2018, 11:54
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Court orders diesel bans in Berlin / EU ministers agree car CO2 limits

rbb24 / Administrative court Berlin

The Berlin administrative court has ordered Germany’s capital to introduce driving bans for diesel vehicles on parts of eight roads suffering from exceedingly high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution, reports the public broadcaster rbb24 in two articles. As of mid-2019, driving bans must be introduced for diesel cars and trucks meeting the Euro 5 or older emissions standards. Berlin will decide whether it will also introduce bans for Euro 6 diesel vehicles. Around 220,000 diesel drivers in Berlin would be affected by the bans, around one in six drivers in the capital, writes rbb24. The court also ordered the city to examine whether it must introduce driving bans on many other roads to keep emissions within limits. NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH) has taken authorities in several German cities to court over NO2 levels exceeding limits (currently 28 active cases). The Berlin diesel bans could also affect the federal government’s own car fleet, as 28 cars met only the Euro 5 standard or older, writes rbb.

Read the rbb articles in German here and here, the court press release in German here, and a Reuters article on the topic in English here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet Diesel driving bans in Germany – The Q&A and the article Germany’s 'huge step' to solve diesel crisis leaves NGOs unconvinced.

Spiegel Online / rbb24

Key elements of the German government’s diesel deal have become “practically worthless” within a week, writes Nils-Viktor Sorge in a “chronology of failure” on Spiegel Online. Many carmakers continue to reject hardware retrofits, while trade-in incentives remain vague and barely distinguishable from existing discounts, according to Sorge. Contrary to the government’s assurances, even diesel cars that comply with the recent Euro 6 norms might be affected by bans in the city of Berlin.
Berlin’s transport senator Regine Günther told the broadcaster rbb that “the federal government’s useless ‘diesel deals’ have failed on all fronts.”

Read the Spiegel article in German here and find the rbb article in German here.

Find background in the article Germany’s ‘huge step’ to solve diesel crisis leaves NGOs unconvinced.

Clean Energy Wire / Council of the European Union

The environment ministers of the EU member states have agreed to seek more ambitious CO₂ car emission cuts by 2030 than both the European Commission and the German government had initially proposed. Average CO₂ emissions of new passenger cars registered in the EU will have to be 15 percent lower in 2025 and 35 percent lower in 2030, compared to the emission limits valid in 2021, according to the agreement reached by the Council of the European Union. Germany’s environment minister Svenja Schulze had grudgingly argued for limiting CO₂ car emission cuts to 30 percent by 2030 – as also proposed by the European Commission – despite believing the proposal falls far short of what is necessary to mitigate climate change. “In very intensive negotiations, we also succeeded in convincing our German colleagues and other states to increase their ambitions to 35 percent,” said Elisabeth Köstinger, federal minister for sustainability and tourism of Austria and chair of the Council meeting at a press conference. The agreement means that the Council’s Austrian Presidency has a mandate to start negotiations with the European Parliament, which had recently agreed to seek a 40 percent cut by 2030. The first meeting takes place on 10 October.

Find the press release in English here, the agreement in English here, and watch the press conference here.

Find background in the news item Merkel opposes more ambitious EU car fleet emissions targets and the articles Germany launches task force to kickstart shift to sustainable mobility and German environment ministry pushes for tougher EU car emission rules.


German economy minister Peter Altmaier will present a new consortium of companies on 13 November to tackle domestic battery cell production, reports Alfons Frese in the Tagesspiegel. Manufacturer VARTA Microbattery and carmaker Ford Germany will be part of the alliance, according to sources. Both companies have declined to comment.
In July, Chinese battery maker CATL announced plans to build a large factory in the eastern German state of Thuringia to supply manufacturers with battery cells in the country where the automobile was born.

Find the article in German here.

Find background in the new CLEW dossier Energy storage and the Energiewende and the article Chinese-German battery cell deal key step for mobility transition.

pv magazine / German Aerospace Center (DLR)

The German Aerospace Center (DLR), the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), and Stuttgart University aim to store renewable power in the form of heat on a “power plant scale,” reports Sandra Enkhardt in pv magazine. The institutes agreed to build the joint research facility “Nadine” - short for “National Demonstrator for Isentropic Energy Storage.” “Efficient storage can ensure a reliable energy supply with an ever-increasing share of renewable energies,” said Pascale Ehrenfreund, chair of the DLR Executive Board. “Furthermore, large heat storage units can also help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants worldwide by converting them into power plants with heat storage." The researchers said they will focus on “Carnot batteries” that use heat pumps to convert power into heat, which can be stored and later used to generate electricity again with an efficiency of up to 70 percent, according to the article.

Find the article in German here.

Find a DLR press release in English here.

For plenty of background, read our brand new dossier Electricity storage is next feat for Germany’s energy transition.

Spiegel Plus / Harvard Gazette

The plans for wind power expansion in Germany are “illusory” since the growing density of turbines across the country is set to diminish the yield per installation so much that power production targets can no longer be met by simply increasing the number of units, a study conducted by Harvard researcher Lee Miller is quoted in an article by Johann Grolle in the Spiegel Plus online magazine. Germany must face the fact that the large number of turbines both on land and at sea means that the wind cannot blow unobstructed and that one turbine will reduce the power yield of another, Miller argues, adding that he has “great respect” for the German Energiewende. Miller’s finding that average wind power yields are much lower than assumed by many wind farm planners is a "disastrous" finding for Germany, Grolle writes. In a second study cited in the article, Miller argues that wind turbines cause a rise in local temperatures by mixing air from different altitudes, which for Germany “could mean a rise in temperature across the whole country,” he says.

Find the article in German here (paywall), an article in the Harvard Gazette in English here, and the studies on density and climate impacts in English here and here.

See the CLEW factsheets on onshore and offshore wind power in Germany for background.

Washington Post

Courts in Germany and other European Union countries are posing a growing challenge to governments and business interests regarding climate change in recent months, reports Rick Noack in The Washington Post. Examples include an appeals court in the Netherlands, which recently ordered officials to cut greenhouse gas emissions more rapidly than so far envisioned; German courts that have started to order cities to introduce driving bans for dirty diesel vehicles; and a court in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which ordered the suspension of the controversial clearing of Hambach Forest for a lignite mine.

Find the article (behind paywall) in English here.

For background, read the CLEW articles German court stops controversial clearing of forest for lignite mine and Court ruling opens door for diesel bans in German cities.

Federal Environment Agency

The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) has submitted its considerations regarding a future long-term climate plan for the European Union. The EU is currently preparing its respective mid-century long-term climate strategy, which would drag Europe’s economy onto a Paris Agreement-compliant trajectory.

Find the paper in English here, and read up on the current EU talks in this EurActiv article in English.

For background, read the CLEW dossier The energy transition and climate change.

European countries must increase their focus on supply security and safeguard their solidarity in critical power supply situations, according to a joint appeal by energy industry associations. The continent is no longer characterised by a large supply of secure power capacity, “maybe even an oversupply”, the associations said.
In a separate press release, BDEW head Stefan Kapferer said Germany could not simply trust that European neighbours would be able to help in critical situations – especially in case of a speedy coal exit – but that the country itself has to secure enough capacity compatible with the energy transition.

Find the appeal in English here and the press release in German here.

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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