Germany ends coal funding via WB / Gabriel defends renewables support
German Parliament / Federal Government
The German government no longer supports the new construction or overhaul of already decommissioned coal plants via development finance instruments of the World Bank, it said in an answer to a parliamentary inquiry of the Left Party. “Multilateral development banks are key actors when it comes to implementing (…) the Paris Agreement. These institutions therefore should clearly commit themselves to ending the financing of fossil fuel projects, especially coal,” the government said. It added that financing the modernisation of coal plants “only is admissible in exceptional cases and subject to strict” political and technological criteria. The government said it would adapt its position in the World Bank’s executive boards, especially in the International Finance Corporation (IFC), accordingly. The World Bank should “focus all of its work on climate and sustainability targets," Development Minister Gerd Müller said after meeting with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.
Dow Jones Newswires / Spiegel Online
Germany’s social democrat economy minister Sigmar Gabriel has rejected ideas of coalition partner CDU to phase out the support of renewables, Dow Jones Newswires and Spiegel Online report. The CDU “should think this over. I don’t think it’s going to work,” Gabriel said according to Dow Jones Newswires. It would not make any sense to reverse the recently reformed Renewable Energy Act (EEG), Gabriel said, adding that finding additional ways of financing the energy transition would become vital in the coming years. According to Spiegel Online, Gabriel said that Germany’s power demand would rise significantly due to, among other things, the expected expansion of e-cars, which had to be covered by renewable energy sources.
Read the article by Spiegel Online in German here.
Germany’s buyer’s premium for e-cars is obstructing energy transition in the transportation sector, as it fosters the sale of private cars rather than sustainable mobility concepts, a study commissioned by Greenpeace has found. In order to ensure that e-mobility will play a sustainable role in the future, the government “ought to focus on subsidising the shared use of e-cars and ban new registrations of combustion engines by 2025,” Greenpeace writes in a press release. “The best e-car is not the one you own but the one you share,” said the conservation organisation’s mobility expert Tobias Austrup. Germany began offering 4000 euros to buyers of fully electric cars and 3000 euros for hybrids in July, with the aim of getting a million e-cars on the roads by 2020, up from around 50,000 at the end of 2015.
Read the study in German here.
For background on the Energiewende and mobility, read the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector.
Modernising the energy performance of Germany’s building stock contributes to housing shortages due to rising rent costs, Dietmar Walberg, director of the Modern Construction Consortium (ARGE e.V.), said in an interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung. Reducing a building’s energy demand or installing heating systems that run on renewable energy “is often associated with very high costs,” Walberg explained. Grants for modernisation by the government-owned banking institution KfW often overlooked the specific costs for a given building and instead applied the same scheme everywhere in the country, he added. Energy efficiency were “lacking long-term thinking,” Walberg said, calling for a regional differentiation of financial support schemes.
Read the interview in German here.
For background on the effects of efficiency measures, read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and Efficiency.
The German machinery industry is hoping that a revival of fossil-fuel-based industry in the United States, as promised by President-elect Donald Trump, will give makers of mining equipment a boost, writes Thomas Schmelzer in Handelsblatt. The industry has suffered in the last three years from slumping investment in the global mining business and a looming coal exit in Germany, according to Schmelzer. This year looks different, however, as raw materials prices are rising and with this, demand for industrial metals, writes Schmelzer, citing the head of the German Mechanical Engineering Association’s mining division, Michael Schulte Strathaus. Trump has said he wants to save the US coal industry, writes Schmelzer. “If he is able to pull it off, that will benefit us,” he quotes Schulte Strathaus as saying.
Read the article in German here.
The spread of electronic cars would make Germany’s cities much more hospitable, writes Joachim Käppner in an opinion piece for the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Currently, many cities were unable “to ensure compliance with regulations for clean air even with driving bans,” Käppner writes. “The next generation will be baffled by that,” he adds. Cheaper e-cars and carmakers’ plans to ramp up charging infrastructure soon would have an effect on German cities, many of which had been designed around individual mobility after World War II, Käppner explains. But replacing conventional cars with electric ones “will not be enough,” he adds. Cities had to “discover new forms of mobility” by further expanding public transportation systems, car sharing and cycling infrastructure.
Read the commentary in German here.
A new book by physicist and German energy industry manager Thomas Unnerstall outlines key pro and con positions on the German energy transition, writes Klaus Stratmann in a book review in the Handelsblatt. While Unnerstall says many companies have not been decisive enough in pursuing climate-friendly energy strategies in his book, “Factcheck Energiewende”, he also claims that many costs could have been avoided. Above all, Stratmann says, Unnerstall’s assessments are based on a plethora of facts, which - although this leads to long passages full of numbers - is enlightening for readers who are willing to invest the time.
For more information on German companies’ stance on Energiewende, see the CLEW factsheet What business thinks of the energy transition.