14 Jul 2017, 00:00
Sven Egenter Benjamin Wehrmann

Franco-German climate initiatives / Worries over centre-right policies

Franco-German Council of Ministers

The governments of France and Germany have vowed to make cross-sectoral climate protection covering all areas “a priority” of their bilateral activities. In a joint statement by the Franco-German council of ministers, the countries’ leaderships said they were going to work on joint initiatives for global climate protection, demonstrate the benefits of climate-friendly development and work towards an “ambitious” implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement. Together with the multilateral forums G20 and UNFCCC, both countries also vowed to assist more vulnerable nations in addressing climate-related challenges. French President Emmanuel Macron said he was going to visit the UN’s COP23 under Fiji presidency and held in the former German capital Bonn this November to support initiatives that advance the agreement before holding a conference in December in Paris that will focus on funding of climate protection activities.

Read the statement in German here.

Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)

France and Germany have agreed to hold joint auctions for renewable energies, the German ministry for the economy and energy (BMWi) said in a press release. The two countries also agreed to set up a cross-border experiment dubbed “Smart Border Initiative” aimed at testing the integration of renewables into decentralised grids. German economy minister Brigitte Zypries said she told her French partners that the controversial French Fessenheim nuclear plant near the German border “should be the first plant to be shut down” after France’s environment minister Nicolas Hulot last week openly pondered closing 17 nuclear plants.

Find the press release in German here.

Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

In order to push implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement, France and Germany have agreed on setting up a joint programme for climate and energy research for 50 scientists from around the world, the German ministry of education and research (BMBF) said in a press release. In the context of the French initiative “Make our planet great again”, the fellowship programme, endowed with 45 million euros by both countries, will focus on research to put the Paris accord’s targets into practice. German research minister Johanna Wanka called the join initiative “an important signal in confusing times”.

Find the press release in German here.


Managers in the utilities sector seem wary of a centre-right coalition of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the business-oriented Free Democrats (FDP) after September’s federal election, although the pairing has traditionally been seen as business leaders’ favourite, Angela Hennersdorf writes in business magazine WirtschaftsWoche. The coalition of the two parties in the country’s largest federal state North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) has set out to “revamp” the Energiewende policy, including a slow-down in onshore wind power installations. Energy sector leaders fear yet another turn-around at the federal level after companies such as utility RWE’s spin-off innogy and E.ON finally shifted full-force into renewable energy, Hennersdorf writes. However, she quotes Andreas Pinkwart, FDP economy minister in NRW, as saying that the new NRW government does “not want to undo the Energiewende, but ensure that it finally follows market rules.”

Find background on the election in NRW here and key points of the coalition treaty here. The CLEW dossier Vote2017 provides background on the parties’ positions ahead of the federal election.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Germany is paying a high price for creating jobs in the renewables sector and it is uncertain whether these jobs are sustainable in the long run, Manuel Frondel writes in a guest article for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The econometrist from economic research institute RWI argues the 25 billion euros of renewable surcharges paid by German consumers as part of their power bill each year make “the employment argument for renewables as unsound as it has been for the [subsidised] hard-coal industry.” Rather than genuinely creating jobs, the renewables industry competed with other industries for skilled workers and investments, which are “becoming economically less attractive” due to renewables support. Frondel says employment in the solar industry has not developed as projected due to competition from China, while only about one-fifth of the 142,000 jobs in the wind power industry is in the operation and maintenance segment and therefore not susceptible to short-term investment fluctuations.

Read the article in German here (behind paywall).

For background, see the CLEW article Last major German solar cell maker surrenders to Chinese competition and the CLEW factsheet German onshore wind power – output, business and perspectives

Märkische Allgemeine

The economy minister of German federal state Brandenburg has called a speedy phase-out of coal-fired power production “utopian”, Märkische Allgemeine reports. SPD-politician Albrecht Gerber said while restructuring the energy system in the long-term was a necessity, 60 percent of Germany’s electricity was currently still provided by conventional sources: “It is utopian to believe that we will soon phase-out nuclear and coal power,” Gerber said at a regional industry conference organised by the German Wind Energy Association (BWE). Regional BWE head Hinrich Glahr stressed that renewable energies in Brandenburg employed about 17,000 people whereas lignite mining in coal region Lusatia, which partly lies in Brandenburg, only provided work for about 8,000 people.

See the CLEW factsheet When will Germany finally ditch coal? for background.


After years of rising hard coal import volumes due to the closing of domestic mines, Germany seems to decrease its reliance on the fossil fuel, Andreas Macho writes in business weekly WirtschaftsWoche. While Germany continues to be Europe's biggest hard coal importer, a decrease in volume in 2016 might be a first sign that the trend is reversed, he writes. Fossil energy utility Uniper expects import volumes to fall in the future and  market researcher AG Energiebilanzen says power production from hard coal in Germany was in decline last year, Macho writes. But Frank Peter of energy think tank Agora Energiewende* says the future of hard coal in the country depended on two factors: Whether hard coal will be phased-out alltogether and how the gas price develops.

Read the article in German here.

For background, see the CLEW factsheet Germany’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.  

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

Environmental Action Germany

In light of the latest accusations against German carmaker Daimler of having equipped its vehicles with manipulation software for emissions tests, environment and consumer protection organisation Environmental Action Germany (DUH) is ready to file a lawsuit to withdraw the Daimler cars’ operating permit, DUH said in a press release. DUH estimates that “significantly more” than one million Daimler diesel cars could be equipped with the illegal switch-off devices that ensure emission limits are only met on the test stand.  DUH head Jürgen Resch said it was “not enough” if transport minister Alexander Dobrindt “invites automotive industry representatives for a chat.” The ministry has to act on the allegations “or the DUH will take legal action.”

Find the press release in German here.

For more information, read the CLEW factsheet Reluctant Daimler plans “radical” push into new mobility world.


The German government has called on China to postpone its planned e-car quota for carmakers, Handelsblatt reports. The four largest carmaker associations from Europe, the US, Japan and South Korea have all requested that China amend the quota and grant carmakers a three-year “period of grace” to prepare the shift to more e-cars, the article says. Handelsblatt cites a media report which states the associations were “highly concerned” about sanctions for not fulfilling the quota. The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) and other associations warned China that its policy of penalising carmakers that imported batteries to China rather than using Chinese products “risked international trade conflicts.”

Read the article in German here.

For more information, see the CLEW article Sino-German tandem: Export champions promote global energy transition.

Die Welt

The German government should come to realise that the planned gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea “will not be implemented” and “save Europe further disputes on this matter”, Green politician Reinhard Bütikofer writes in a guest article for Die Welt. If the EU Commission takes over negotiations with Moscow, former economy minister Sigmar Gabriel’s “idea to build Nord Stream 2 essentially in an unlegislated space bypassing European energy law” will have failed, Bütikofer says. Chancellor Angela Merkel so far has avoided commenting directly on the pipeline that is heavily contested by eastern European EU members. “She should now decide to pull the plug” to avoid German stubbornness standing in the way “of a new vitality in the EU” he argues.  

See the CLEW factsheet The Energiewende and its implications for international security for more information.

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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