04 Nov 2016, 00:00
Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

German climate targets too weak – study / VW denies manipulation

Energy Watch Group

Germany’s greenhouse gas reduction target of 80-95 percent by 2050 can't be reached with current plans, and is in itself inadequate to meet the goals set out in the Paris Climate Agreement, according to a new study by Energy Watch Group (EWG). “The government needs to completely rewrite its energy concept and climate targets,” said Hans-Josef Fell, former member of the German Bundestag and president of EWG at a press conference in Berlin. He added that environment minister Barbara Hendricks’ Climate Action Plan 2050 – even before having been trimmed-down – is not a suitable national plan to reach global climate targets. The study, entitled “German Climate Policy – From Leader to Laggard,” calls to aim for a global zero-carbon economy as early as 2030 and the creation of effective carbon sinks, mostly by agriculture and forestry.

Find a press release in English here and the study in German here.

For background read the CLEW factsheet Germany’s trimmed-down Climate Action Plan.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Volkswagen denies it breached European legislation by installing defeat devices in its vehicles that deliver lower pollutant emissions on a test stand than in regular traffic, write Claus Hulverscheidt, Klaus Ott and Katja Riedel in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. While the company admitted to having manipulated its cars for the US market and has to pay billions in compensation overseas, it holds that “there is no deactivation mechanism violating European law” in the cars sold in Europe, the authors write. Although it has already started to retrofit 2.4 million cars in Germany to lower emissions, as demanded by federal authorities, VW regards the ordinance as “judicially wrong,” according to the authors.

Read the article in German here.

Read more on the difficulties of German carmakers to switch to lower-emission vehicles in the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.

Politico / Deutsche Welle

The German government has reached an agreement with the European Commission on the country’s plans to impose passenger car tolls for highways, writes Florian Eder for Politico. Until now, the main point of contention was that the scheme proposed by German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt would have allowed owners of cars registered in Germany to deduct the toll from their car tax bill. EU rules forbid discrimination based on nationality, writes Eder. The compromise would take a car's emissions and fuel efficiency into account, “meaning some people would receive a rebate exceeding the toll's value, while those with thirstier vehicles would only get a partial rebate,” writes Deutsche Welle in a separate article.

Read the Politico article in English here and the Deutsche Welle article in English here.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The vigorous debate within the German government about the content of its Climate Action Plan 2050 is in stark contrast to the relative half-heartedness of international climate negotiations, writes Andreas Mihm in an opinion piece for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Germany’s share in global emissions stands at merely 2.3 percent, but plans by social-democratic environment minister Barbara Hendricks to revolutionise many aspects of everyday life and economic activity to be more climate-friendly give the impression her ministry regards itself as “the department for the globe’s fate,” Mihm adds.

For more information read the CLEW factsheet Germany’s trimmed-down Climate Action Plan.

WirtschaftsWoche Online

The expansion of the gas pipeline Nord Stream, linking Germany and Russia via the Baltic Sea, angers Poland and the Baltic States as they fear Russia’s influence in Europe will be made stronger by the project, WirtschaftsWoche Online reports. “This is no way to create an effective energy union,” Polish president Andrezj Duda said. Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite also condemned the pipelines as “geopolitical projects” rather than economic investments, according to the website. Poland, which also fears losing the funds it receives as a transit country for Russian gas, could take recourse by asking the European Commission to halt the expansion of Nord Stream, Polish political analyst Zuzanna Nowak told WirtschaftsWoche Online.

Read the article in German here.

Read more on German energy imports in the CLEW factsheet Germany’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.

Deutscher Bundestag

The German government continues to assume that a planned security standby of lignite plants will result in costs of about 230 million euros over seven years, it said in an answer to a parliamentary inquiry by the Green party. The security standby is also likely to cause a rise in grid fees of 0.05 cents per kilowatt hour, the government added.  In order to save CO2 emissions in the power sector, the government has agreed with utilities to put old and inefficient lignite plants with a total capacity of 2.7 gigawatts on temporary security standby before they are eventually shut down permanently.

Read the government’s answer in German here.

For background on the security reserves read the CLEW factsheet Germany’s new power market design.


The European Union has initiated infringement proceedings against Germany in 16 cases for failing to correctly implement environmental directives, Dagmar Dehmer writes in the Tagesspiegel. Among the legal issues that could lead to a confrontation between Berlin and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) are also cases of particulate matter and nitric oxide pollution in cities, a recurring issue that recently has been highlighted by the emissions manipulation scandal at VW, writes Dehmer. “The Germany of cars will have to change if Berlin does not want to find itself in front of the ECJ time and time again,” she adds.

Read the article in German here.

For more information on Germany’s difficulties with lowering pollution caused by vehicles read the CLEW factsheet Energiewende in transportation: Vague goals, modest strides.

The energy consumption in industry was 4,016 petajoules in 2015, a decrease of 0.7 percent compared to 2014, writes Germany’s statistics agency Destatis in a press release. “As in the previous years, the main energy sources in industry were natural gas (27 percent), electricity (21 percent) as well as mineral oils and mineral oil products (20 percent)," writes Destatis. The most energy intensive sector was the chemical industry with a share of 31 percent of total energy consumption, followed by the metal industry with 23 percent.

Find the press release in English here and a longer version in German here.

Aldi Süd

Aldi Süd will become Germany's first major climate-neutral food retailer from January 2017, the company announced in a press release. Aldi Süd uses up to 80 percent of electricity from its solar PV facilities and will acquire the remaining power needed solely from Green electricity, starting next year. Other greenhouse gas emissions will be compensated through certified climate protection projects, says the press release.

Find the Aldi Süd press release in German here and an article by European Supermarket Magazine in English here.

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