07 Dec 2021, 13:49
Benjamin Wehrmann

Faster renewables expansion will require intense debate in German society – Habeck

Clean Energy Wire

Designated German climate and economy minister Robeck Habeck has said that faster construction of new wind turbines and solar panels will be a “core task” for his ministry in the coming years. At a press conference held by representatives of the incoming government, the Green politician said this will require intensive debates about the structural change it means for the country. Habeck added that constructing large amounts of new renewable power installations and other energy transition infrastructure, such as hydrogen transport and production, will probably be an “imposition” for many people. “Everyone who has signed the coalition treaty knows this,” Habeck said, adding that the speed of construction of new installations will need to quadruple to meet the coalition’s ambitious target of an 80 percent share of renewables in the electricity sector by 2030. Natural gas “conceivably” will drop out of the country’s power mix in the 2030s, Habeck added, increasing the pressure to fill the gap with renewables: “I’m afraid that this won’t be easy and we will have quite a lot of debates.” He added that a short-term measure in the first months of its tenure could be to give renewables priority in adequate areas where construction is currently blocked due to other “legal interests.” He also said that his first year in office is likely to be filled with creating the legal foundation for the economy’s “eco-social” transformation and effects will only really take hold afterwards.

The Green politician, who will also be made vice chancellor, said his novel ministry combining climate and economic policy will need to show that economic prosperity and effective climate action can be reconciled, stressing that “I hope the business world understands that the new government and my ministry are partners for them.” The economic potential of clean technologies for Germany and Europe is immense, Habeck added, arguing that “companies are ready for it” and “eager to take the next step.” His ministry will now offer political assistance in this endeavour.

Designated finance minister Christian Lindner from the Free Democrats (FDP) said he does not expect the finance ministry (BMF) to clash with Habeck’s new ministry over budgeting questions for the transformation. “I see no conflict,” Lindner said, arguing that the BMF should be an “enabler-ministry” for climate action. The coronavirus pandemic halted important climate projects that now need to be resumed in full, and he promised that as treasurer he will ensure the projects outlined in the coalition treaty are adequately funded. 

The new government which will be headed by Social Democrat (SPD) chancellor Olaf Scholz is set to be sworn in on Wednesday 8 December. The so-called ‘traffic light coalition’ government, named after the party’s colours, will replace outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel’s “grand coalition” between her conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the SPD, in which Scholz has been finance minister since 2017. In its coalition treaty, the new government has committed itself to bringing Germany on an emissions reduction path compatible with the Paris Agreement’s target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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