19 Dec 2016, 00:00
Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Dispute on city driving bans / "Energiewende chaos" overcome -econ min

Spiegel Online

German cities may be able to ban or limit cars from driving into their centres, should a draft regulation compiled by the environment ministry (BMUB) at the urging of the federal states enter into effect, Spiegel Online reported Saturday. Under the regulation, municipalities would be allowed to single-handedly introduce driving bans in order to curb nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions, according to Spiegel Online. If the draft passes, cities would have three options to block diesel and other high-emission engines from their centres, the website explains. Apart from issuing access badges for low emission cars, this could mean access to certain roads is blocked for polluting vehicles altogether or that cities opt for a scheme where cars with license plates ending on an even number are allowed access on certain days and cars with plates ending on an uneven number may enter the city on others.
A spokesperson of the federal transport ministry on Monday rejected the proposal at a press conference in Berlin: "Existing regulations already give cities the opportunity to introduce driving bans under certain circumstances. We don't consider it expedient to establish new possibilities."

Read the article in German here

Süddeutsche Zeitung

The conservative CDU/CSU group in the German parliament has rebuffed a proposal by social democratic environment minister Barbara Hendricks to allow cities to ban diesel engines when they deem it necessary, Thomas Öchsner writes in Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Millions in the workforce rely on their cars on a daily basis, goods have to be brought from A to B,” the CDU/CSU spokesman for transportation, Ulrich Lange said. Hendricks presented a draft regulation on the weekend allowing municipalities to limit nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions through various schemes, e.g. issuing access badges for low emission cars only. The environment minister’s proposal follows treaty violation proceedings against Germany by the EU Commission for failing to abide by critical nitrogen oxide (NOx) values.

Read the article in German here.

For more information on the lingering diesel dispute see the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.

Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

Over the past three years, the federal government succeeded in bringing order and legal security to Germany’s energy transition, the seminal project known as Energiewende, federal economy minister Sigmar Gabriel said presenting his ministry’s economic policy interim review for the current legislative period. “We corrected the chaos of the Energiewende [and] Germany now has an energy transition that is predictable and reliable,” said Gabriel at a press conference in Berlin. Two reforms of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) “prepared renewables for the market and the market for renewables,” according to Gabriel.

Read the BMWi interim review in German here.

A record 359,319 German households had their power cut off at some point in 2015, equal to 0.9 percent of all household customers, the website reports based on the Federal Network Agency's (BNetzA) annual monitoring report. A total of 6.3 million power supply connections were under threat of cut off, meaning one in seven connections was in arrears with its electricity bill, according to the website. Suppliers have the right to cut transmissions when customers owe more than 100 euros. In 2015, they cut power supply for households owing 119 euros on average. According to, cut-offs in Germany have increased by 12.7 percent since 2011, “with electricity costs soaring by 14.2 percent over the same period presumably being one of the main reasons.” 

Süddeutsche Zeitung

German utility innogy is well prepared for the time when a transition to electric drives gains momentum, the company’s CEO Peter Terium told the Süddeutsche Zeitung in an interview. “The future belongs to e-mobility, that’s clear. […] I believe that the sale of e-cars will soon grow exponentially,” said Terium. From 2017 onwards, innogy will have a new business unit that bundles all e-mobility activities. The company is interested in participating in a carmakers’ initiative to set up a fast-charging network across Europe.

Read the full interview in German here.

Find background on the e-car issues in the dossiers Energiewende and German carmakers and the energy transition and the transport sector.

Frankfurter Rundschau

Reducing traffic volumes and significantly lowering emissions in Germany's transportation system is going to be an “intergenerational project,” think tank Agora Verkehrswende’s director Christian Hochfeld says in an interview with Frankfurter Rundschau. Transforming Germany’s mobility “has been a public consensus for 30 or even almost 40 years,” Hochfeld says, adding that the country nevertheless has made very modest progress on this intention. “A change in behaviour will be necessary to reduce energy demand sufficiently for covering residual demand with renewables,” he explains. According to Hochfeld, “the transition of transportation (Verkehrswende) is even more complex than the transition of the energy supply (Energiewende)” and will have to entail renouncing private cars on a large scale.

Read more on The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector in this CLEW dossier.

*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Verkehrswende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation. 


Constructing a standardised and reliable charging infrastructure for e-cars is a key requirement for expanding the use of electric vehicles in Germany, Gero Lücking, director at energy provider LichtBlick, writes in a guest commentary for Handelsblatt. “There are 6,500 public charging stations in Germany. Currently, a daunting chaos is reigning,” Lücking explains. The present e-car charging network was made up of a variety of payment systems and “lacks reasonably functioning competition,” enabling “regional monopolies” to charge e-car drivers prices per kilowatt hour “three to four times above those paid by households.” According to Lücking, a solution would be to allow every energy provider to offer its rates at any charging station so that customers pay for recharging their car “together with their electricity bill.” 

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The envrionmental organisation Nabu has criticised the German government for sacrificing the protection of nature and wildlife to meet its energy transition and climate protection goals, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reports. In a statement on the reform of Germany’s environmental protection law, Nabu finds fault with the environment ministry’s decision to limit restrictions on killing animals in order to make it easier to obtain wind engine permits, according to FAZ. 

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