27 Jun 2018, 13:29
Luke Sherman Benjamin Wehrmann

Energiewende needs higher priority - gov advisors / VW cuts production

Clean Energy Wire

Germany will likely miss several of its key energy transition goals, according to leading experts commissioned by the German economy ministry (BMWi) to monitor the progress of the country‘s energy transition. Among the three elements of the government's so-called energy policy target triangle - supply security, affordability, environment and climate – the monitoring commission noted the biggest failure in addressing climate protection sufficiently. In its non-binding advisory opinion on the ministry’s 6th Energiewende Monitoring Report, published on 27 June, the experts said that Germany also lags behind in lowering energy consumption, increasing energy efficiency, and expanding the power grid. Energy transition policy must receive a higher political priority, Andreas Löschel, head of the expert commission, told the Clean Energy Wire. He welcomed the new government coalition‘s decision to set up the commission tasked with charting the path for the country’s exit from coal, and its plan to introduce a climate protection law. However, key concrete measures, such as a reform of the energy taxes and levies system, including the introduction of a price on CO₂, were still missing, he said.

Find the econ ministry‘s press release, the 6th monitoring report, and the expert opinion in German here.

Note: The Clean Energy Wire will publish an article on this topic later today.


New tighter emissions tests in Germany have led the country’s biggest carmaker VW to shut down its main plant in Wolfsburg for 1-2 days per week, Reuters news agency reports. Other VW plants will also see their production volumes cut, as the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), based on real driving conditions, has increased the emissions readings of several vehicles, delaying official road certification and sales, the article says.

Read the article in English here.

For background, read the factsheet Dieselgate forces VW to embrace green mobility, and the dossier BMW, Daimler, and VW vow to fight in green transport revolution.


In an international ranking compiled by the US non-profit organisation ACEEE, Germany and Italy came first for being the most energy efficient countries among the world’s 25 largest energy consumers. While “no country came close to a perfect score” of 100 points, Germany and Italy tied with 75.5 points each, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) said in a press release. The average score was 51 points. Germany scored particularly well in the ‘national efforts’ category, which covers cross-cutting targets and programmes. However, the researchers said that “all the countries we evaluated have clear opportunities to save more energy,” and will have to do so if the Paris Climate Agreement is to be honoured.

Find the report in English here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and efficiency.

dpa / Die Welt

The majority of Germany’s heating systems are older than 20 years and must be refurbished, the Federal Association of Chimney Sweepers says according to a dpa article carried by Die Welt. If heating systems older than 15 years are included, more than 70 percent of these systems are inefficient, the association said at its annual meeting. According to the chimney sweepers, Germany’s transition to a low-carbon economy cannot take place without the significant refurbishment of its heating systems. “There is no energy transition without a heating transition,” said association president Oswald Wilhelm.

Read the article in German here.

For background, read the dossier The Energiewende and Efficiency.

CDU parliamentary group

The parliamentary group of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU party has welcomed the first session of the commission tasked with planning the country’s coal exit, but stressed that “thoroughness must come before speed” in the group’s overall approach. CDU climate politician Anja Weisgerber said that people in coal regions must be given attention and time for managing the economic transition from coal mining to other activities, while carrying out the “historic” phase-out of this fossil power source. CDU energy politician Joachim Pfeiffer said a “premature coal exit would be irresponsible, both in terms of climate and of social policy.” Pfeiffer said it was of utmost importance to guarantee supply security and price stability for German power customers. This, he said, overrides any other objectives the commission might have. “The most efficient climate policy is not pursued nationally but rather in a European or global context,” Pfeiffer said.

Find the press releases in German here.

See CLEW’s coal commission watch for more information.

Renewable Energy Federation

The German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE) says the country’s coal exit plan should be accompanied by a plan to achieve 100 percent renewable energy supply. “Only planning security for industry can lay the foundations for investments” and prevent economic hardship in the affected regions, the BEE says in a press release. The lobby group argues that a quick coal exit is necessary for Germany to reach its climate goals and lower the grid costs, as bottlenecks arising from “inflexible” conventional power plants continue to clog the power lines. The BEE reiterated its call for a carbon floor price as the best way to make the country’s coal exit efficient.

Find the press release in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet on Germany’s coal exit commission and the article Gore says Germany faces historic step as coal commission starts work for more information.

Der Tagesspiegel

Solving a complex social problem like the phasing-out of coal - Germany’s traditional and still most important energy source  - is a “core task” of policymakers, and to outsource this task to an external commission amounts to “cowardice and refusal to work,” Jakob Schlandt writes in a commentary in Der Tagesspiegel. While a similar commission has already successfully brokered the orderly decommissioning of nuclear plants, the German coal question is much too difficult and multi-layered for the government to put the onus on others and let them figure out how best to distribute money, jobs, and other resources at the national level, he writes. “Both sides - opponents and friends of coal - can emotionalise their arguments, and while one side will talk about apples, the other will want to talk about pears.” Schlandt considers it even more worrying that the commission begins its work at a time when Germany’s Energiewende has encountered its first fully-fledged crisis: the pro-climate political consensus is increasingly challenged from the right, and the country’s national and international emissions reduction goals now seem out of reach.

Read the commentary in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet on Germany’s coal exit commission and the article Gore says Germany faces historic step as coal commission starts work for more information.

The new Federation for Electric Shipping and Charging Infrastructure has set out to wane ship owners in Germany’s capital off diesel engines and to introduce e-boats instead to reduce inner city air pollution, the federation says in a press release and on its website. According to the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), in cities with a shipping volume comparable to Berlin’s, up to 30 percent of nitrogen oxide pollution and other harmful emissions come from inland water transport. “Spending a normally recreational moment at the Spree [Berlin’s main river] becomes a health liability this way,” the federation says, adding that it will actively lobby the city’s policymakers and ship owners to initiate change.

Find the website in German here

NRW Environment Agency

The German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) is likely to have already met its 2020 emissions reduction target of 25 percent compared to 1990 levels, the state’s environment agency (LANUV) says in a press release. Almost one third of Germany’s total power production takes place in NRW, which is also the country’s most populous state. In 2016, NRW emitted about 286 million tonnes of CO2, 38 million tonnes or 22 percent less than in 1990. Roughly 53 percent of the state’s emissions come from energy production, which, however, is the sector with the greatest reduction thanks to the “low utilisation of existing plants and the decommissioning of others,” the LANUV says. Emissions from transport, on the other hand, have risen by 3.4 percent since the reference year, the agency says.

Read the press release in German here.

See the CLEW article Germany on track to widely miss 2020 climate target – government for more information.

Clean Energy Wire

Parliamentarians from the German opposition Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Greens took aim at the government’s policies pertaining to energy and the climate, and to the international context of the country’s energy transition, the Energiewende. At a panel organised by the Association of Energy Market Innovators (bne), FDP politician Michael Theurer said Germany should not pursue a relatively ambitious climate policy, but should instead act in coherence with other nations. “I think that it makes no sense and is not a rational strategy – and I would not want to advocate this to the voters – for us to go it alone on the international stage and attempt to reach something that we can’t,” he said.
Green politician Ingrid Nestle countered that it was right for Germany to be open to ambitious proposals coming from abroad. She described carbon pricing as a useful instrument for reaching emissions reduction goals, as it compels the market to favour low-carbon fuels and technologies. In light of French President Emanuel Macron’s call for a Europe-wide carbon tax, Nestle argued that now is the time for Germany to throw its weight behind such a proposal, and said that it is a “shame” that it has not yet done so.
Parliamentarian Johann Saathoff of the Social Democrats (SPD), whose party is a member of the current government coalition, said that Germany serves as an example to countries seeking to limit their carbon pollution around the world. If Germany lowers its ambition and fails to meet its emissions reduction targets, other nations will take note, he added. The 2017 announcement that Germany would likely miss its 2020 climate goal “was communicated globally. Colleagues from Uganda and elsewhere commented  that ‘If even the Germans don’t adhere to their climate targets, then we don’t need to either.’  So the worldwide impact of this announcement was enormous,” he said.

For background, read the factsheet Campaign quotes: Greens and Free Democrats on Energiewende issues.

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