08 Oct 2018, 13:46
Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

IPCC report alarms German env min / Hambach a "Fukushima for coal" ?

Clean Energy Wire

The IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, released today, shows the urgent need for ambitious climate action, according to the German government. In a press release, environment minister Svenja Schulze said the key message of the report is that “we must not waste any more time on climate protection”.
Jochen Flasbarth, state secretary in the environment ministry, said at a press briefing in Berlin that the statement of the scientists that the 1.5 degree goal is achievable is a “central and positive message”. However, the IPCC report contained “unsettling depictions” of the “huge difference” between worlds with a global warming of 1.5° and 2° Celsius. “If one knows that at 1.5 degrees some hundred million people less are in poverty, this must be relevant for the decision-making,” said Flasbarth. The IPCC report states that in order to reach the 1.5° Celsius goal, global net human-caused CO₂ emissions must be reduced by 45 percent by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. The environment ministry could not immediately say what this meant for Germany’s national target. The state secretary said he is sure that the messages of the “alarming report” would be heard by the members of Germany’s coal exit commission, which is to decide a phase-out path by the end of 2018.
Hans-Otto Pörtner, co-chair of the IPCC’s Working Group II, said the bottlenecks on climate do not lie on the physical-chemical or technological side. “We need a charismatic political leadership that will offensively bring climate goals into society,” said Pörtner at the press briefing. “Our current political leadership and statements in the political landscape tend to go in the other direction,” said Pörtner.

Find the BMU press release in German here, and the report and summaries in English here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier The energy transition and climate change and the Commission watch – Managing Germany’s coal phase-out.


The embattled Hambach Forest could turn out to become a symbol for Germany’s acclerated coal exit as much as the nuclear disaster in Fukushima became a symbol for the country’s accelerated nuclear exit, Jürgen Flauger writes in a commentary for Handelsblatt. “The political pressure to end lignite [brown coal] mining in the Rhineland and Lusatia and to give up coal-fired power production with hard and brown coal is enormous,” Flauger says, adding that “Hambach could become a second Fukushima” for energy companies like RWE. “Just like after Fukushima, a decision based on consensus has become unlikely,” he adds, saying that environmental organisations will now become even more adamant that coal-fired power production comes to an end in Germany soon. “This is regrettable,” Flauger says, arguing that a “slam on the brakes” is neither technically feasible for coal nor desirable as it will result in years of litigation over compensation claims by the energy companies.

Read the commentary in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article German court stops controversial clearing of forest for lignite mine.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Environment and climate policy “do not take place” in Germany under the current grand coalition government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democrats (SPD), writes Michael Bauchmüller in an opinion piece in Süddeutsche Zeitung. “In the CDU/CSU the economic wing has the say, in the SPD the union camp. The intersection of both is the opposite of environmental and climate protection.” Merkel “lacks the strength to also fight for more climate protection”, and her government has stepped on the brakes regarding European efforts for stricter targets on greenhouse gas emissions. Shortly after the US decided to leave the Paris Agreement, “Europe’s most important industrial country” is now also missing as a driving force in international climate action, writes Bauchmüller. The grand coalition “holds back progress away from coal, oil and gas. […] Among the consequences, the collapse of Germany as a business location could be one of the more harmless”.

Read the opinion piece in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article First 100 days - German government in disarray neglects energy policy and the dossier The energy transition and climate change.

Frankfurter Rundschau

Many companies in Germany have understood that a more sustainable way of making business will dominate the economy of the future, Green politician Julia Verlinden writes in a guest commentarty in the Frankfurter Rundschau. But some of the country’s largest companies would rather “turn back time to the last millennium” and continue to make huge profits on the expense of the environment and everyone else in society, she adds. “Their arrogance is at least as repulsive as their ignorance,” Verlinden says, arguing that big companies like carmaker VW or energy heavyweight RWE use their influence over jobs and tax returns to put pressure on politicians to do the companies’ bidding. Global warming or air pollution do not seem to play a role or lead to a change of attitude, which is “an insult to customers” and to future generations, Verlinden says, adding that “the time for this sort of business philosophy is now over” as many citizens no longer accepted this level of irresponsibility.

Read the commentary in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article German court stops controversial clearing of forest for lignite mine.

Renewable Energy Agency (AEE) / Kantar Emnid

The support of German citizens for the country’s Energiewende [energy transition] is unwavering, a poll commissioned by the country’s Renewable Energy Agency (AEE) and conducted by pollster Kantar Emnid has shown. According to the AEE, 93 percent of respondents said they are in favour of a faster expansion and greater use of renewable energy sources. Nearly two thirds of respondents said they support a greater renewables expansion even if this meant wind turbines or solar power arrays are built near their homes – with the figure rising even more if respondents already live near a renewable power installation. Nearly 80 percent said they believe a rapid grid expansion is necessary too, but less than one third answered they would welcome a large transmission line in their neighbourhood and 30 percent said they would not tolerate this. Most respondents said the reason they support the Energiewende is either climate protection (81 percent), inter-generational justice (79 percent), energy independence from fossil fuel imports (68 percent) or strengthening Germany’s economic power (59 percent). Over 60 percent answered they would welcome a more ambitious decarbonisation in the energy sector and nearly three quarters said they wish the transport sector did more to reduce carbon emissions.

Read the press release in German here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet Polls reveal citizens' support for Energiewende.


The planned Russian-German natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, currently under construction in the Baltic Sea, can contribute to German power supply security during the country’s coal exit, said coal commission co-head Ronald Pofalla during a speech at the Petersburg Dialogue, news agency dpa reports. "I think this project is right from the point of view of supply security," said Pofalla, a former top aide to chancellor Angela Merkel. Without a broad gas supply, a "necessary change in energy supply with the aim of CO₂ reduction" could not be achieved, said Pofalla. The Petersburg Dialogue is a bilateral discussion forum with the aim to promote understanding between the civil societies of Germany and Russia.

Find the article (behind paywall) in German here.

Find background in the CLEW factsheet Gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 links Germany to Russia, but splits Europe.

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