19 Feb 2018, 00:00
Kerstine Appunn Benjamin Wehrmann

Diesel driving ban ruling imminent / Company call for global CO2 price

Environmental Action Germany (DUH)

NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH) says it’s sceptical of government efforts to prevent driving bans on diesel cars in inner cities, as well as a lawsuit by the European Union over excessive air pollution. With a crucial verdict by Germany’s Federal Administrative Court over whether diesel driving bans in German cities are legally admissible looming on 22 February, the DUH says it is “curious to see” what the court will decide. The DUH, which set the ball rolling on driving bans by launching legal proceedings in the city of Stuttgart, says its cause received “tailwind” from the European Commission. German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks was summoned to Brussels to present measures against air pollution, resulting in a vague announcement that free public transport could be offered in several German cities, which DUH says the government itself later admitted was nothing but “hot air.” The DUH says clean air will only be achieved if diesel cars “are resolutely locked out of inner cities,” as they account for up to 80 percent of nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution.
In a separate press release, DUH head Jürgen Resch says reports of a government advisory committee recommending that diesel retrofitting should be paid for from the federal budget are “a hoax.” There was no consensus on this matter among the committee’s members, and taxpayers “already pay enough with their health” for car industry fraud, the press release says.

Find the press release in German here.

See CLEW’s dieselgate timeline and the CLEW article German cities might test free public transport to cut pollution for background.

Handelsblatt / AFP

Large German companies have criticised the coalition agreement between Social Democrats and the conservative CDU/CSU for being too weak on climate action, Handelsblatt reports. A survey among Germany’s 30 Dax-listed companies also shows they support a global CO2 price to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Read the articles in German here and here.

Spiegel Online

Environmentalists suspect trees that provide a habitat for protected birds of prey have been cut down to make way for a wind farm in the German costal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Maik Baumgärtner writes for Spiegel Online. Wildlife NGO Nabu says “this may have been done by citizens who will benefit economically from a planned wind farm”. Baumgärtner says similar incidents have already occurred at potential wind farm locations. Lars Lachman of Nabu argues that tighter environmental regulations on wind farms have put birds at risk. “The animals used to have no influence on the farms” but now their presence can block expansion, meaning some may conclude “they have to go,” he says. The German Wind Energy Association (BWE) says it is aware of the problem and calls on German prosecutors to show “more determination” in finding those responsible. The BWE is also mulling offering rewards for leads to offenders, the article says.

Find the article in German here (paywall).

For more information on controversies over wind power, see the CLEW factsheet Fighting windmills: when growth hits resistance.

Welt Online

German wind farm operators often “systematically” ignore regulations on dismantling turbines, leaving several tonnes of concrete in the ground, Carsten Dierig and Daniel Wetzel write on Welt Online. Most landowners agree to have only a fraction of the baseplate removed “in return for decent compensation payment,” the article says. “To make matters worse, this violation of rules is often rubberstamped by the administrative district’s authorities,” they claim, adding that the wind power lobby managed to limit mandatory removal to a depth of 2.5 metres. Many “clueless” investors reckoned on low costs for disposing of retired turbines and now face substantial expenses that could “further reduce their already low returns on investments,” the authors say.

Find the article in German here (paywall).

See the CLEW factsheet From survey to harvest: how to build a windfarm in Germany for more information.

Die Welt

The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington will soon rule on Swedish utility Vattenfall’s claim against the German government for damages from Germany’s accelerated nuclear exit in 2011, Daniel Wetzel writes for Die Welt. The ICSID will give its verdict in the first quarter of 2018, the German environment ministry told the newspaper. Vattenfall says the German government’s decision to exit nuclear power quicker than previously agreed cost the company 4.4 billion euros as it was unable to exploit production quotas at two of its nuclear plants.

Find the article in German here.

See the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out for background.

Financial Times

Germany may have “led the way in rhetoric on energy in the European Union […] but has not managed to match deeds to words”, Nick Butler, visiting professor and chair of the Kings Policy Institute at Kings College London writes in an op-ed for the Financial Times. He says the coalition agreement is “a confused approach, driven only by the short-term political pressures”.

Read the op-ed in English here.

Find a CLEW factsheet on energy and climate policy in the coalition agreement here.


A surge in e-car purchases in Germany has led to bottlenecks at manufacturers and waiting times of up to a year for vehicles to be delivered, car industry magazine Automobilwoche reports. “After a long period of e-mobility failing to get off the ground, manufacturers are now overwhelmed by demand,” the article says.

Find the article in German here (paywall).

German-Japanese Energy Transition Council

The German-Japanese Energy Transition Council (GJETC), a bi-national research council for cooperation in energy transition and climate action established in 2016, has published its first major studies on research synergies between the two countries, the GJETC says in a press release. German researcher Stefan Thomas of the Wuppertal Institute says the analysis revealed differences in approach, framework conditions and short-run targets, and developed common recommendations on “how to establish a long-term risk-minimizing energy strategy which protects the climate and natural resources and at the same time drives ecological modernization and international competitiveness of the economy.”

Find the press release in English here.

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