18 Oct 2021, 13:13
Benjamin Wehrmann

Industry appears more content with “traffic light coalition’s” climate proposals than activists

Clean Energy Wire / RND

Industry representatives in Germany have largely welcomed the ideas proposed by the possible next government coalition of the Social Democrats (SPD), the Green Party and the Free Democrats (FDP). Kerstin Andreae, former Green Party MP and now head of the energy industry association BDEW, said the energy industry’s first impression of the parties’ ideas was “extraordinarily positive.” A paper released by the three parties last week already contains “many important measures,” she said, including more space for renewable power installations, faster licensing procedures and the end of the renewables surcharge. Andreae stressed that the paper also mentions the construction of new gas power plants that are needed to guarantee supply security during the transition. “Overall, the results make for a very good basis for further coalition negotiations,” she said. Industry federation BDI said the talks among the parties signalled that they are “on track” to form a new government. BDI head Siegfried Russwurm welcomed that the parties do not plan to introduce new or higher taxes. “This has to be about preserving growth and competitiveness,” Russwurm said, adding that the plan to reduce bureaucracy in licensing procedures would underpin this approach. He argued that the idea to allow write-offs for climate investments could help spur activities, adding that he particularly welcomed the idea to improve EU cooperation on rail infrastructure, energy systems and hydrogen production.

Climate activists are more critical of the results presented by the SPD, the Greens and the FDP. Luisa Neubauer, a leader of the Fridays for Future climate protest movement in Germany, told media association RND that the coalition’s plans failed to win her consent. Simply doing more for climate action than the previous government would not be enough, she argued. “It’s about doing enough to comply with international climate promises,” she said. With the paper the coalition parties released on Friday “this won’t be possible.” Environmental group Greenpeace said the three parties’ proposals contained a lot of “good will” but are nevertheless inadequate for putting Germany on a path compatible with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Pulling forward the coal exit to 2030 and expanding renewable energy sources would be the right approach, “but concrete decisions are lacking, for example exiting combustion engine technology,”  Martin Kaiser, head of climate politics at Greenpeace International, said. “There won’t even be a speed limit on motorways,” he added, arguing that the possible coalition’s ideas for improving climate policy remained vague.

The conservative CDU/CSU alliance criticised the climate policy plans, arguing that the three parties had avoided thorny issues lie CO2 pricing and emissions trading. “What we see now largely follow the current government’s climate policy course. Apparently, it was not that bad after all,” deputy parliamentary group leader Stephan Stracke said. He said he was curious “how the Greens will explain this to their party members” and criticised the paper for not mentioning the current energy price hike in Europe.

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