23 Feb 2018, 00:00
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Driving ban hearing "slap in government's face" / Diesel in free fall

Sustainable transport association VCD

While it is unfortunate that Germany’s Federal Administrative Court has postponed a ruling on diesel driving bans aimed at cutting air pollution in cities, the court case has already been a “slap in the government’s face,” according to German transport and environmental association Verkehrsclub Deutschland (VCD), which promotes sustainable mobility. “It is remarkable that all participants in the hearing sharply criticised the federal government for its inaction regarding clean air," the club said in a statement. There was broad agreement in the courtroom that federal regulation such as a 'blue badge' to identify clean cars could have created a clear regulatory framework years ago, according to the VCD.

Find the VCD statement in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article German top court postpones ruling on diesel driving bans and the factsheet Diesel driving bans in Germany – The Q&A.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

The federal government and the car industry are the main culprits in bad air quality in cities, but both are keeping silent in the Federal Administrative Court case on driving bans, writes Michael Bauchmüller in a commentary in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “The fact that the highest German courts need to deal with this case is the result of a political failure that is sadly not on trial in Leipzig,” writes Bauchmüller. “It’s a sad irony of history that this will once more boost the sales of new cars, to the industry’s delight.”

Read the commentary in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article German top court postpones ruling on diesel driving bans and the factsheet Diesel driving bans in Germany – The Q&A.

Lower Saxony’s environment ministry

Driving bans would fall short of what’s needed to make transportation more sustainable, according to Olaf Lies, social democrat environment minister in Lower Saxony, where carmaker VW is based. “I am sure we can get by in Lower Saxony without driving bans,” Lies said in a statement on the Federal Administrative Court hearing on driving bans, with reference to software updates to make cars cleaner and efforts to renew vehicle fleets. “We need a real transport transition,” Lies said, calling for government support to make public transport more attractive and introduce carsharing programmes. He said it was high time the federal government decided on legal questions and the financing of hardware retrofits for polluting cars, and that more flexible traffic light systems could make traffic more efficient.

Read the statement in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article German top court postpones ruling on diesel driving bans and the factsheet Diesel driving bans in Germany – The Q&A.

The interest in diesel cars has dropped substantially in Germany as the engine technology has come under fire for not abiding by emissions standards, reports. According to a survey by car sales website AutoScout24, only 14 percent of respondents looking to buy a car would opt for a diesel model. “46 percent prefer a petrol engine car and one in four is interested in a hybrid or electric car,” writes. Two percent of car owners have sold their diesel cars due to the debate over diesel driving bans in inner cities and 16 percent are considering selling them.

Find the article in German here.

See the CLEW article German top court postpones ruling on diesel driving bans and the CLEW factsheet Diesel driving bans in Germany – The Q&A for more information.

Focus Online

The head of Norway’s national pension fund, Norges Bank CEO Yngve Slyngstad, says he is optimistic that Germany’s carmakers will manage to cope with big changes in their industry as it shifts from fossil combustion engines to new engine technologies, Focus Online reports. Slyngstad says he believes that German car companies will maintain their leading position, which is why the Norwegian pension fund would continue to invest in Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen. “We have great trust in the German carmakers,” Slyngstad says, adding that the companies will be faced with “four revolutions”, namely autonomous cars, the energy transition, carsharing and comfortable driving.

Find the article on in German here.

See the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers for more information.

sonnen GmbH

German battery company sonnen wants to equip electric car users with a new charging box that not only allows them to draw electricity from solar panels on their homes, but also connects them to other users, making them part of a larger battery pool. The sonnenCharger “makes e-cars part of sonnen’s virtual power plant consisting of clean energy producers, storage devices and consumers,” the company says in a press release. The charger takes excess energy from other e-cars if a customer’s own solar panels do not produce enough, sonnen says. Users are eligible to receive up to 8,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity free of charge per year as part of the sonnenFlat. Connecting to sonnen’s system also helps reduce pressure on the electricity grid, the company says. As many distribution grids in urban areas aren’t prepared to handle a large number of e-cars, using the vehicles to store power can help reduce the need for new power lines and steer charging cycles in a smart way, sonnen says.

Find the press release in German here.

Read the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s power grid for more information.

Frankfurter Rundschau

The German government will likely not join a lawsuit against the planned nuclear power plant Paks in Hungary, Thorsten Knuf writes for the Frankfurter Rundschau. Austria has filed a lawsuit that challenges the plant’s licensing by the European Commission, saying the project pushed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán violates funding guidelines. Germany could have joined the lawsuit, but an environment ministry (BMUB) spokesperson said it is unlikely that Austria’s case will be successful, adding that the next German government would ultimately have to decide on the matter. Members of the German parliament from the Green Party and the Left Party say the plant in Paks not only poses a security threat but could also lead to market distortions at the expense of renewables, Knuf writes. In a letter to the government, the members of parliament said studies had shown that the plant in Hungary could reduce the German wholesale power price by 70 cents per megawatt hour (MWh).

Find the article in German here.

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

Desmog Canada

Germany’s energy transition from nuclear and fossil energy to renewables has many sceptics and requires a lot of hard work, but shows that “it can be done,” Judith Lavoie writes on Desmog Canada. Manfred Fischedick of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate told the magazine that Germany has lessons to offer Canada, such as the need for a long term strategy, a “sophisticated” monitoring system, specific sector targets and a “top-down, bottom-up” approach that firmly embeds the target of decarbonisation in public support and administrative procedures at every level, Lavoie writes.

Read the article in English here.

See the CLEW dossier The history of the Energiewende for background.

tageszeitung (taz)

European agriculture often harms the environment, thus half of all subsidies allocated from the EU budget should be dedicated to measures that help protect it in the future, writes Jörg-Andreas Krüger in an opinion piece in the tageszeitung (taz). Krüger calls for better aligning agriculture policy and budget decisions with the EU’s climate and environmental goals. EU leaders meet in Brussels today (23 February) for an informal European Council summit on how to deal with the budget hole created by Brexit. Almost 40 percent of the EU budget was spent on agriculture in the past years, writes Krüger.

Find the opinion piece 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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