12 Sep 2018, 13:35
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Govt investigates Germany's CCS potential / Parliament debates coal

Spiegel Online

The German economy and energy ministry (BMWi) has commissioned a study of the country’s options for capturing and storing carbon dioxide emissions to lower its carbon footprint, Manuel Berkel writes on Spiegel Online. According to the article, energy minister Peter Altmaier wants to find out “what kind of infrastructure we need” and at what point carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology would become practicable for the country, the article says. Despite heavy protests by environmentalists against a first initiative to launch the CCS technology in Germany back in 2010, climate protection organisations like WWF or Germanwatch now support a new attempt to use CCS to meet Germany’s emissions reduction obligations under the Paris Agreement. It is still uncertain how well the technology functions to that end and whether it causes environmental damage elsewhere. According to the article, the ministry will primarily research if CCS can be used to store industrial CO2 emissions, which are difficult to avoid and account for about 7 percent of Germany’s total carbon footprint.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW article Norway bets on gas and CCS to complement Europe’s energy transition for more information.

Clean Energy Wire

The plenary debate in the German Parliament about Germany’s 2019 budget for environmental policy on 12 September centred on the country’s coal exit. Referring to the current situation in the embattled Hambach Forest, which energy company RWE wants to cut down to make room for a nearby coal mine, environment minister Svenja Schulze said: “It might sound boring and unsensational, but environmental policy must conciliate and not divide.” This was true both for powerful companies and for their opponents. “The one side should take its hands off the chainsaw and the other side should come down from the trees and open up to a political discussion. We need joint discussion here.”
Marie-Luise Dött, environmental spokesperson for Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU-CSU alliance, said that the coal commission must send a signal ahead of the UN climate conference in Katowice in December. “But this signal cannot be ‘we reach our climate targets; what happens to people [in the affected regions] is secondary’,” she said.
The Social Democrat (SPD) Matthias Miersch replied that one cannot pretend that climate goals can just be postponed at will. “We cannot negotiate with nature.” Parliament could only decide on the path to reach the target. “If we adhere to our international legal obligation to reach the 2030 climate targets, then all parliamentarians involved, as well as all government members […], will have to submit to this goal.”
Sven-Christian Kindler, the Greens group’s budget spokesperson, criticised the environment minister for not being assertive enough with the other ministers. “You cannot always pass the responsibility you have for climate policy on to the transport, agriculture, or economy ministers. I expect to see an environment minister who can assert herself in the government on key issues.”

Find the plenary protocol in German here.

See CLEW's Commission watch for updates on the coal commission's work.

Clean Energy Wire

The proposal by the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment to tighten emissions limits for new vehicles has triggered a lively debate in Germany. The country’s car industry association VDA called the proposal “highly alarming” and “unworkable,” arguing that it “ignored technical and economic realities” and would lead to the “loss of many jobs in Europe.” Environmental Action Germany (DUH) countered that carmakers’ internal plans envisaged that electric vehicles will have a share of 30 to 50 percent of new car sales by 2030 anyway.
The EP committee voted for reducing the average CO2 emissions of new vehicles by 45 percent by 2030 – a target significantly higher than the 30 percent reduction proposed by the European Commission. The German government has not yet agreed on a common position on new fleet emission limits. The German environment ministry (BMU) had proposed a reduction of 50 percent, but faces resistance from the economic affairs and transport ministries.
The German car industry is concerned that the EU might take a decision on the matter without a strong voice from Germany, reports Silke Wettach in the Wirtschaftswoche. “The industry is in upheaval – even though it knew that Chancellor [Angela] Merkel will no longer step into the breach like in the past” because of the diesel scandal, writes Wettach.

Read the VDA press release in German here.

Find the Wirtschaftswoche article in German here.

Find plenty of background in the news piece German government struggles to find common position on new EU climate targets for cars, the article German environment ministry pushes for tougher EU car emission rules, and the dossier BMW, Daimler and VW vow to fight in green transport revolution.

vzbv / ADAC

The Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv) together with auto club ADAC will file a class action lawsuit against Volkswagen for “intentionally and immorally causing harm to and betraying customers with software manipulation” to obfuscate its diesel vehicles’ true emissions levels, the vzbv says in a press release. The two organisations say they will sue Germany’s biggest carmaker on 1 November, the day on which class action lawsuits will become permissible in Germany. The lawsuit will be open to customers of the brands Volkswagen, Audi, Seat, and Skoda with car models that have been subject to an official recall, the press release says. The organisations say they will seek to achieve financial compensation for affected customers who bought their car after 1 November 2008, and will bundle their competencies to make the best use of the “new legal tool” of class action lawsuits.

Read the press release in German here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet "Dieselgate"- a timeline of Germany's car emissions fraud scandal and the CLEW article One year after German diesel summit, the air quality challenge remains.

German Chemicals Industry Association

Increasing the admissible maximum weight of freight trucks from 40 to 44 tonnes could save “millions of truck rides” and reduce carbon emissions in Germany’s transport sector, the German Chemicals Industry Association (VCI) says in a press release. Together with 16 other industrial associations, the VCI has published a position paper aimed at “optimising” the admissible weight and contributing to Germany’s climate targets, the press release says. The VCI says traffic volumes are projected to increase by almost 40 percent by 2030, which made it necessary to use all possible options to keep the number of vehicles in check.

Read the press release in German here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet Road freight emissions in Germany and the dossier Cargo transport and the energy transition.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

The German energy industry is utterly unsatisfied with the government’s energy policy track record after the first six months in office, Michael Bauchmüller writes in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “We’re lacking someone to set the pace in policymaking,” says Marie-Luise Wolff of energy industry association BDEW. Josef Hasler, CEO of energy company N-Ergie, says the government’s starting period has been “a complete disaster” that was filled with a lot of talking but brought few results. Economy and energy minister Peter Altmaier is being criticised for failing to introduce a so-called 100-day law to accelerate important energy transition policies and for still not having appointed a state secretary for energy, Bauchmüller writes. Meanwhile, “managers, researchers, and industry associations have long started debating the details of tomorrow’s energy world,” he says.

Find the article in German here.

For background see a CLEW factsheet on the government’s climate and energy targets here.

Montel News

Germany would close about half of its coal-fired power generation capacity by 2030 on economic grounds alone if the price of EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) allowances remained above its current level of 25 euros per tonne of CO₂, economist Andreas Löschel told journalist Nathan Witkop in an article for Montel News. Löschel heads the German federal government's Energiewende monitoring expert commission.

Find the article in English here.

For the full background, read the CLEW article Rising CO2-price could trigger German coal phase-out in 5 years, and the CLEW interview "Energiewende acceptance will become key question"-gov energy advisor.

NRW Energy Ministry

The German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the country’s most populous state and home to numerous emissions-intensive heavy industries, has launched an initiative to examine options for bringing down industry’s carbon footprint, the NRW energy ministry says in a press release. The state’s economy and energy minister, Andreas Pinkwart of the pro-business FDP party, said NRW had to employ its “innovative spirit” to make sure the state contributes to emissions reduction targets while maintaining its industrial competitiveness. Over the next four years, industrial companies, researchers, and the state government will work on the initiative dubbed IN4climate.NRW to find ways to make production processes more sustainable, for example for steel or coal products. Andreas Gross, CEO of steel company thyssenkrupp Steel Europe, said steel was “no old-economy but high-tech” and a necessary input factor for many energy transition technologies, which is why the company would be open to any innovative solution that makes its production less CO2-intensive.

Find the press release in German here and the initiative’s website in German here.

See the CLEW dossier The energy transition’s effects on the economy for background.

German Development Institute (DIE)

The slow pace of progress in the negotiations on a rulebook for the Paris Climate Agreement is “deeply worrying,” and industrial countries must both help configure global climate policy in a socially responsible way and do their own homework, write Steffen Bauer and Clara Brandi in an article for the German Development Institute (DIE). “If Germany wants to regain its former pioneering role in climate policy, as federal environment minister Svenja Schulze called for in her maiden speech to the Bundestag, the country must honour its climate commitments and boost its efforts to significantly raise the level of ambition in German and European climate policy.”

Find the article in English here.

Find background in the CLEW news item Finishing Paris Agreement rulebook at COP24 in Katowice “feasible” – German negotiator and the article New German environment minister faces steep uphill battle on climate.

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