23 Jan 2018, 00:00
Sven Egenter Benjamin Wehrmann

E.ON CEO applauds postponed 2020 climate goal, calls for carbon tax

Clean Energy Wire

The decision by parties negotiating Germany’s next government to weaken the country’s 2020 climate protection goals was an “appropriate” move that took “courage”, Johannes Teyssen, CEO of utility E.ON, said at an energy industry conference held by business newspaper Handelsblatt in Berlin. Teyssen said “a lot has happened” since Germany set its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020, citing the country’s sustained economic growth and influx of migrants in recent years. “Precise dates are merely symbolic,” he said, adding that ambition to reach the climate protection goal was nevertheless very important. He said policymakers had to set a general course for emissions reduction and provide the tools to achieve it, “but the market and technological development will decide how quickly we move”. On Germany’s target to reduce emissions by 55 percent by 2030, Teyssen said any precise planning over such a long period was “untruthful”, but that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democrats (SPD) still had to show ambition to meet the goal. “So far, solutions to this are absent in negotiations,” he said, arguing that the European emissions trading system (ETS) was “a failed instrument” that could not do to enough to reduce emissions, and that “an effective CO2 price” on a European level, backed by a national carbon tax would be “the most powerful instrument” for climate protection.

See the CLEW article German party leaders agree energy policy blueprint for coalition talks for background.

Main Post

In recent years, German politicians endorsed a “fake climate goal” that could not have been met, renowned German environmentalist Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker said in an interview with the Main Post. Von Weizsäcker said “it is good” the parties in exploratory talks to form a new German government – Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democrats (SPD) – postponed the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990. “At the same time, policymakers decided to ramp up and accelerate their efforts. So, I’m not particularly unhappy about this issue,” the co-president of sustainability organisation Club of Rome said. With respect to the Club of Rome’s popular 1972 study “Limits of Growth”, von Weizsäcker said the warning that the world might run out of mineral resources was “exaggerated”. “There’s more copper, natural gas and other resources in the ground than we are allowed to extract,” he added.

 See the CLEW article German party leaders agree energy policy blueprint for coalition talks for background.

Private German consumers pay the highest power prices in Europe, reports, alongside Denmark – formerly the country with the highest consumer electricity bills. With an average price of 30.5 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), Germans pay about 50 percent more than the European average of 20.4 cts/kWh, and the same as Danish power customers, according to figures from Eurostat. Taxes and levies account for 67 percent of Danish electricity bills, compared to 55 percent in Germany. Bulgaria has the cheapest power prices for private customers, at 9.4 cts/kWh – about a third of the German price. But electricity is also significantly cheaper in Germany’s neighbouring countries of France, at 16.9 cts/kWh, and Austria, at 19.9 cts/kWh. Over the last 10 years, European power prices rose by an average of 37 percent, says.

Find the article in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet What German households pay for power for background.

Clean Energy Wire

Natural gas will become the most-used fossil fuel in Germany’s electricity supply within two decades, RWE boss Rolf Schmitz said at an energy industry conference held by business newspaper Handelsblatt in Berlin. Natural gas plants will be the only economically viable option back up renewable power generation – replacing coal, Schmitz said. He added that a German coal exit would “come one way or another” as renewable power gradually replaced the country’s coal capacity. Schmitz said the replacement of coal by renewables already under way would make a politically enforced coal exit unnecessary.  

Tagesspiegel Background

An internal paper from the German environment ministry shows the country will miss the 2020 greenhouse gas emission target set by the European Union for sectors not covered by the EU emission trading system (ETS), Jakob Schlandt writes in energy and climate newsletter Tagesspiegel Background. The ministry view the goal of cutting emissions from non-ETS sectors such as transport and agriculture by 14 percent compared to 2005 unlikely, Schlandt writes. Germany would have to buy emissions rights from other states and the exact procedure and costs are not clear yet, he explains.

For background, read the CLEW article Germany's energy use and emissions likely to rise yet again in 2017.

Die Welt

Germany’s grid operators fear that from 2020 the country may have to import electricity in extreme cases of adverse weather, as more and more conventional power plants are taken offline, Daniel Wetzel writes for Die Welt. The four transmission grid operators’ scenario analysis shows that domestic power plants may not fully meet the country’s demand on 15 January 2020, chosen as a moment when power reserves are potentially at their lowest and demand at its highest. Wetzel quotes a spokesperson for the grid regulator as saying the analysis is purely theoretical. Currently, Germany is a net exporter of electricity and has one of the world’s most secure power supplies.

Read the article in German here.

For background on the supply security read the factsheet German grid stable amid energy transition and for German power exports check the factsheet on Germany’s energy consumption and power mix.

Tageszeitung (taz)

Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz’s assurances that the party will not abandon the country’s 2020 emissions reduction goal ring hollow, as the paper resulting from exploratory talks with Merkel’s CDU shows lack of ambition to reach it, Malte Kreutzfeldt writes in a comment piece for taz. The SPD did not include climate action as an area for tougher negotiation in the final round of the talks to form a new government, Kreutzfeldt says. “In light of this rejection of reality, one can only hope that for the sake of climate action, SPD members ultimately reject a new grand coalition,” he writes. This would open the door for a new election, and a realistic opportunity for a coalition government of the CDU and the Green party.

Find the taz article in German here and a news piece on Schulz speech at the party convention paving the way for the next round of coalition talks 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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