02 Oct 2018, 10:04
Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Government deal to curb diesel pollution / Carbon-neutral coffee

Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s coalition government has reached an agreement to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from diesel cars in German cities. Transport minister Andreas Scheuer and environment minister Svenja Schulze called the deal “a very large step” to improve air quality, avoid driving bans, and secure the future of the diesel. Diesel drivers in polluted cities will be offered incentives by carmakers to trade in their older vehicle against a newer model or a hardware retrofit. The ministers said they “expected” carmakers to foot the bill, but added they had not yet reached firm agreements with the companies. The government also agreed to step up the retrofitting of municipal bus and lorry fleets and commercial vans.
Environmental NGOs were critical of the agreement. Environmental Action Germany (DUH), which got the ball rolling on driving bans by suing polluted cities, said Chancellor Angela Merkel had once again carved into pressure from the car industry. The Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) said the government should have forced carmakers to wide-ranging retrofits if citizens’ health was its primary concern.

Please note: The Clean Energy Wire will publish an article on this topic later today.

Find the government press release in German here.

Get background on the diesel story in the CLEW factsheet "Dieselgate" - a timeline of Germany's car emissions fraud scandal.

Clean Energy Wire

After several hours of negotiations on diesel emissions and immigration, the federal government coalition also agreed that it would decide to implement special renewables auctions “to contribute to closing the gap in the 2020 climate target” in a cabinet meeting in October. A paper handed to journalists after the talks confirmed the coalition agreement from February 2018, in which Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democrats (SPD) said they would implement additional auctions for 4 gigawatt (GW) of onshore wind power and 4 GW of solar power as well as “one offshore wind power contribution” in 2018 and 2019, “provided that the grid’s carrying capacity is sufficient”. The coalition also said it would raise the renewable power expansion goal to 65 percent by 2030, as stipulated in the February agreement, and adopt the expansion paths for each renewable technology.

Find the paper in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article Wind industry calls for special auctions amid expansion slowdown and the dossier The new German government and the energy transition.

The Guardian / Reuters

The embattled Hambach Forest has to be cut down to ensure a secure power supply for Germany, energy state secretary Thomas Bareiß said at an event organised by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) in London, Adam Vaughan writes in The Guardian. Bareiß said the clearing of anti-coal activist camps “should go ahead” as energy company RWE had “a right to do this” even though Germany’s coal exit commission is still debating the conditions for ending coal-fired power production in the country. Bareiß said Germany, which sources nearly 40 percent of power from coal, would still need its coal plants in the early 2020s. That is partly because Germany is also due to shut its last nuclear power station in 2022. “At end of the decade there is more possibility to shut coal [plants],” he said.
In a separate article by news agency Reuters, Bareiß is quoted as saying that the planned natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 between Germany and Russia is also necessary to keep supply levels safe. “I know the U.S. has concerns,” he said with a view to loud complaints by US President Donald Trump about German-Russian gas trade. “It is not so easy,” Bareiß added. “For Germany, Russia has always been a safe and reliable supplier for gas.”

Read the Guardian article in English here and the Reuters article in English here.

Find background in the factsheets on Germany’s coal exit commission and on Nord Stream 2.

Rheinische Post

Environmental organisations that are trying to set up a large-scale protest against the clearing of the Hambach Forest say up to 20,000 people could find their way to the small forest near Cologne, the Rheinische Post reports. Protest organiser Uwe Hiksch of NGO Naturfreunde Deutschland says the anti-coal rally could become one of the largest events of this kind the region has ever seen, adding, “We hope that from toddlers in their pushchairs to grandmothers with their walking frames, everyone will join our protest.” The organisers, including NGOs Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND), want to put pressure on energy company RWE to abstain from expanding its nearby coal mine.

Find the article in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article Germany’s coal commission insists no decision yet on exit date and the coal commission watch.

The Green Party in the German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) is adamant about holding its party convention at the embattled Hambach Forest. “We as Greens want to send a message and support the peaceful resistance” against energy company RWE, which wants to clear the forest to make room for the expansion of its nearby coal mine, the party says on its website. The Greens call the Hambach Forest “a symbol for the madness that is open pit mining” and argue that “the place where we want to talk about the end of lignite is not a conference room many kilometres away. (…) That’s why we’ve decided to hold the meeting directly on the edge of the mine.”

Find the announcement in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article Germany’s coal commission insists no decision yet on exit date and the coal commission watch.


The price for heating oil in Germany has reached its highest level in several years, price comparison website Check24 says in a press release. At 1,537 euros per 2,000 litres, heating oil in September 2018 cost 8 percent more than in the month before and 85 percent more than at the beginning of 2016. “A further price increase is likely,” said Check24 energy expert Oliver Bohr. While gas prices are currently at a relatively low level, many providers have announced price increases for the end of 2018, the service website says.

Find the press release in German here.

See the CLEW interview Time to advance Energiewende by cutting power costs – top economist for more information.

World Energy Council

Germany is poor in natural resources and in 2017 had to import about 70 percent of its energy consumption from abroad, the World Energy Council Germany says in its weekly info briefing. Russia is the most important source country for German raw material imports, leading in crude oil, natural gas and hard coal imports, the council says. After Russia, the most important source countries are Norway, the Netherlands and the UK, which mainly export natural gas to Germany. The US ranks fifth, mainly due to its hard coal exports to Germany.

Find the briefing German here and a full report on Germany’s energy supply in English here.

Find background in the factsheet Germany's dependence on imported fossil fuels.


Synthetic fuels generated with electricity are a viable option to improve the climate record of Germany’s transport sector but the government has so far failed to come up with a clear position on e-fuels, Klaus Stratmann writes in the Handelsblatt. “Carmakers want to use the tools they need to meet the [EU’s] emissions reduction targets,” but e-fuels so far are not counted when calculating vehicle fleet emissions, Stratmann writes. With regard to upcoming EU deliberations on the matter on 9 October, the German economy and energy ministry (BMWi) said it would discuss the issue but fell short of outlining its position. Carmakers and German industry lobby group BDI argue that a switch to including e-fuels in fleet emissions calculations could incentivise large-scale production of synthetic fuels and kickstart a wave of developments without any state support.

Read the article in German here (paywall).

For background, read the interview Emission-free aviation is technically feasible - DLR Researcher.


Producing carbon-neutral coffee is a possibility that is already being tested in Central America and could be made even more efficient if producers adopt certain strategies in their farming methods, agricultural science researcher Athena Birkenberg of Hohenheim University in southern Germany has found, reports Joachim Wille on Every kilogram of roasted coffee on average causes about five kilograms of CO2 emissions, Wille writes. Projects like the coffee cooperative Coopedota in Costa Rica show that emissions can be reduced drastically, but according to Birkenberg’s research, the cooperative’s efforts could be made even more effective if instead of buying emissions certificates, Coopedota planted more trees near its plantations to capture carbon dioxide.

See the CLEW article “Demonising global trade” no fix for agri-food emissions for more information.

Find the article in German here.

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