17 Dec 2015 | Sören Amelang, Sven Egenter

Germans celebrate climate deal, turn to task ahead

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[UPDATES with comments from VKU] German politicians, climate activists, scientists and media celebrated the "historic" Paris climate agreement. Some business associations as well as activists pointed to flaws of the deal, and most commentators agreed on the need to follow through with actions. Following is a collection of reactions out of Germany.

Government comments

Chancellor Angela Merkel

“Paris will forever be connected to this historic watershed in global climate policy.”
"Irrespective of the fact that we have a lot of work ahead of us still, this is a sign of hope that we can secure the livelihoods of billions of people in the future."

Environment minister Barbara Hendricks

“We have set a milestone."
"The world has to say good bye to coal, oil and gas in the coming decades."

(For more detailed comments from German officials and first civil society reaction read: "Historic" global climate agreement adopted)

Media headlines

"Rejoice - but not too early" (Spiegel Online, commentary)

"The world has agreed an Energiewende" (Spiegel Online, video analysis)

"The signal from Paris will change the world" (Süddeutsche Zeitung, commentary)

"The global pact" (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

"The time was ripe" (tagesschau.de, commentary)

"The work after Paris" (Handelsblatt, commentary)

"The sea change from Le Bourget" (Zeit Online, commentary)

"The green hammer" (zdf heute.de)

Comments from politicians

Simone Peter, chairwoman Green Party

"The climate agreement is a ray of hope. But most of all, it is a call to action."
"The fact that the goal of decarbonisation, coined at the G7 in Elmau, is missing in the agreement, is a defeat for German climate diplomacy. But it remains clear: climate action means decarbonisation. Climate action means coal exit."

Comments from businesses, analysts and activists

Katherina Reiche, managing director German Association of Local Utilities

It's unfortunate that the instruments for emission reductions and how they will be assessed are not further defined in the Paris Agreement, says Katherina Reiche of the VKU. "The political target will only be achieved if all states contribute climate action in the long-term. At the same time, we have to make sure that we guarantee planning and investment security when we adapt the climate targets."

"It's not only the energy sector, but many other actors and sectors who have to ask themselves after Paris how they can reduce emissions. For climate action by the energy sector in Germany, the reform of the European Emissions Trading system (EU ETS) is essential."

Patrick Graichen, Agora Energiewende*

"The climate agreement from Paris is a signal to the world: the global energy supply has to do without coal, oil and gas in the medium term."
"This vindicates Germany's decision of an Energiewende with the goal of 100 percent renewable energy supply."
"After Paris, we have to do our homework here and look towards 2030."
"The job for 2016 will be to adopt a climate action plan 2030. This plan has to describe the decarbonisation of Germany in concrete terms. Important parts are a coal consensus for a step-by-step exit from coal-fired power production, a doubling of efforts to retrofit buildings and an increase in electro mobility."

Ottmar Edenhofer, Mercator Research Institute for Global Commons and Climate Change:

"The Paris agreement is a breakthrough. Earth's fate now depends on how fast and how strong we implement policy instruments to actually reach the great target of strictly limiting global temperature increase and the resulting climate risks."
"The agreement explicitly acknowledges that the current emission reduction pledges, the so-called INDCs, will lead to increasing global emissions by 2030. Nevertheless, the aspirational goal of staying below 2°C is not consistent with the pledges unless deep emission cuts at rates of about 6 percent per year between 2030 and 2050 are pursued. We need short-term entry points for climate policies that allow emissions to peak well before 2030. However, the institutional mechanisms for emission reduction rates are vague: The monitoring and review process has to be clearly defined."
"The agreement mentions short-term entry points: carbon pricing and carbon markets. The G-20 should elaborate next steps to implement carbon prices. Financing and transfers provide the means to harmonize these carbon prices. Whoever is building more coal power plants, however, is shutting the door to reaching the two-degree-target. We now more than ever need to avoid a global renaissance of coal - so we can transform the treaty into reality, and ultimately a better future for all.”

Naemi Denz, German Engineering Federation VDMA

"The result is a success from the point of view of the German enegeneering federation, even if it is not the much hoped-for clear and binding agreement."
"But that it is a deal agreed by all nations, confirming an ambitious goal."

Regine Günther, WWF Germany

Paris has delivered. We are holding the first-ever climate agreement in our hands that is binding for all nations."
"Now it is all about starting the implementation on a national level as quickly as possible. In Germany, the exit from coal tops the agenda"
"The most important signal is: The world wants to say goodbye to fossil energy quickly."
"Climate finance (in the agreement) is too weak to support the developing countries in their climate efforts. Given the mammoth task, the commitments made are by far not enough."
"A coal exit is inevitable given the 1.5° and 2° limits respectively. The climate agreement also provides a strong argument to convince investors to pull money out of investments damaging to climate."

Reimund Schwarze, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research

"The summit has shown that global cooperation on climate is possible."
"The positive signals from Paris will lend the many exemplary initiatives from cities and business a whole new dynamic."
"The decisions are visionary and reach far into the future."
"The vision of a complete end to coal, oil and gas by the end of the century will embolden the finance industry to reinforce the change in their energy portofolios, which has already started."

Hans-Otto Pörtner, Alfred Wegener Institut, co-chair of the IPCC Working Group II (Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability)

The international community has agreed to an ambitious climate protection treaty, and has also set long-term climate targets to limit global warming to well below 2°C, and if possible to 1.5°C. This means that states have adopted the findings of the IPCC, which had shown that negative consequences and risks related to climate change for ecosystems and humans rise significantly between 1.5 und 2°C. This means that even in the case of successful implementation, we can’t avoid negative consequences, but we can limit them.
The most important element is the agreement to an ambitious climate goal. In addition, this treaty will initiate a technological transition, involving a step-by-step move away from fossil energies and towards sustainable economies. What’s lacking in the agreement, apart from a call to a rapid decrease of emissions, is a consistent approach, because this will partly require technologies that have not yet matured or are not available at a sufficient scale.
As far as possible, all countries will now have to be put into a position so they can cover their energy needs with renewables. This treaty expresses a great urgency. With the goal in sight, we must not lose any time before initiating the necessary measures. The IPCC will play an important role in accompanying this process: The impact of adopted strategies and climate scenarios will have to be calculated, projected and compared. We have to show possible approaches that will contain adaptation strategies to unavoidable climate change, as well as the use of technologies to mitigate or even reduce climate change.

E.ON

“The results of the climate summit in Paris are encouraging and must now be consequently put into action,” major utility E.ON said in a press release. “First, it is important to significantly strengthen European emissions trading. So that there is a real incentive to avoid carbon dioxide emissions, there must be an appreciable price. Also, European engagement alone is not enough. Ultimately, we need an international commitment to the reduction of subsidies for fossil fuels and a global CO2 market which advances the best technologies for reducing carbon dioxide.”
Find the press release in English here.

Trade Union for Mining, Chemicals and Energy Industries (IG BCE)

“It’s dishonest to create the impression that the whole world is automatically following the example set by Germany”, said union leader Michael Vassiliadis. With obvious reference to the coal industry, he said it was absurd to start “one exit discussion after another.” He said it was much more important to support countries like India to reconcile climate protection with development chances.
Vassiliades also said Germany can only contribute ten billion dollar per year to climate finance, as promised, “if we remain economically efficient and the Energiewende does not overburden companies nor employees.”
“As long as there is no technically and economically convincing solution to store volatile wind and solar power, fossil energies will be needed as a bridge to enable a secure and affordable supply.” He called on the government to start a large storage initiative.

Association of energy intensive businesses (VIK)

For energy intensive businesses, the implementation of the welcome deal is decisive and must ensure an equal measure of climate ambitions in the EU and other economic competitors, said the association of energy intensive businesses (VIK) in a statement.  “It will be decisive for climate protection and the maintenance of German energy intensive industries’ competitiveness to arrive at a global level playing field when it comes to climate protection.”
“The EU and Germany must not understand the Paris treaty as an invitation to move ahead with climate protection without regard to competitiveness.” The association says as long as there is no global level playing field, energy intensive industries will have to be protected to avoid carbon leakage.

Foundation for German companies in favour of climate protection (Stiftung 2 Grad), Working group for environmentally friendly management (B.A.U.M.), Germanwatch

Companies involved in sustainability initiatives called for ambitious policies for Germany’s decarbonisation. In a statement supported by sustainability business associations Stiftung 2 Grad and B.A.U.M., as well as environmental NGO Germanwatch, the companies said they would do their bit to limit global warming. The signatories, including sportswear companies Adidas and Puma, Commerzbank, major utility EnBW, Unilever and wholesaler Metro Group, “commit to advancing the beginning global transformation as trailblazers.” They said it was now a political duty to put the trend reversal on a solid footing, for example by providing a strategy to achieve Germany’s 2020 climate targets, an ambitious Climate Action Plan for 2050, and a reform of the European emissions trading system.
Read the press statement here.

 

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


 

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