Little progress since 1993 climate report / More dieselgate troubles
dpa / Heise Online
A quarter century after Germany published its first Climate Action Report in 1993, environmental groups give the country bad marks on its efforts to follow through on the promises made in the seminal document, news agency dpa reports in an article carried by Heise Online. Christoph Bals of the NGO Germanwatch says too little progress has been made in reducing emissions in different sectors. “This is most obvious in the transport sector, an industry that still seems to be regarded as sacrosanct,” Bals says. The environmental activist says politicians are reluctant to initiate structural changes as long as influential companies block policies that curtail their business practices, but adds that the Paris Agreement gives reason for hope that these would now be addressed on a large scale. Transport emissions in Germany have not fallen at all compared to 1990 levels, although then environment minister Klaus Töpfer specifically pointed out the challenges posed by growing traffic volumes in the country’s first Climate Action Report, calling for “decisive measures.” The document also said that total emissions would have to fall by 25 to 30 percent by 2005, but this target was only achieved in 2017, the article says.
Find the article in German here.
Find a CLEW article on the latest report here.
German car manufacturers Daimler and Volkswagen are facing new headaches in the so-called dieselgate scandal: according to reports, the former has to recall hundreds of thousands of vehicles on the orders of the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA), while the latter’s CEO, Herbet Diess, allegedly was aware of his company’s software manipulation earlier than previously disclosed, according to an article in Der Tagesspiegel. For its part, Daimler will have to recall and retrofit 700,000 cars throughout Europe, 280,000 of which from Germany, German weekly Der Spiegel reported.
Read the article in German here.
Find background in the CLEW article One year after German "diesel summit," air quality challenge remains and in the factsheet “Dieselgate” – a timeline of Germany’s car emissions fraud scandal.
dpa / FOCUS Online
Energy-intensive companies have applied for exemptions from the renewables surcharge for significantly higher electricity volumes for the coming year, according to a dpa article carried by FOCUS Online. According to a response from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) to a request from the Greens’ parliamentary group, a total of 2,209 companies applied for partial exemption from the electricity surcharge, the article says. The requested amount of electricity totalled 119 terawatt hours, compared to 107.4 terawatt hours requested in 2017. Member of Parliament Julia Verlinden, who serves as energy policy spokeswoman for the Green Party, said that industry is applying for surcharge exemptions for ever greater amounts of electric power, thereby increasing the electricity rates paid by small consumers. “By 2019, industrial exemptions will apply to around one-fifth of total German electricity consumption,” she said. The requests will now be examined and exemptions will apply only regarding the actual electricity consumption.
Read the article in German here.
For background, read the factsheets What German households pay for power and Defining features of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG).
German Chancellor Angela Merkel makes a “huge mistake“ when she argues that the question of ending coal-fired power generation should only be dealt with after ensuring the economic future of the affected workers, Green Party co-head Annalena Baerbock told Barbara Schmidt-Mattern in an interview for Deutschlandfunk. The climate crisis does not wait and “we intensify [it] with every tonne of CO₂ we emit,” said Baerbock. Germany needs to quickly take coal-fired power plants off the grid, she said.
Find the interview in German here.
For background, read CLEW’s “Commission watch – Managing Germany’s coal phase-out” and the factsheet Germany’s coal exit commission.
WirtschaftsWoche / t-online.de
Germany should invest more money in climate protection in other parts of the world by, for example, buying rain forests, Christian Lindner, head of the economic liberal Free Democrats, told the news site t-online.de, according to an article in the WritschaftsWoche. Africa “could become the continent of blue growth without resource use with our help,” said Lindner. The money spent on renewable energies in Germany does "nothing for the climate," but money spent on projects elsewhere would be more effective, he said.
Find the article in German here.
Nord Stream 2 is not just a natural gas pipeline – it is a controversial energy project that has significant geopolitical implications, Michael Stürmer writes in a commentary published in Die Welt. The pipeline divides the EU and the military alliance NATO, and drives a wedge between Germany and the United States, according to Stürmer. The debate over the merits and drawbacks of the energy project demonstrates the need for statecraft in the US, Germany, the EU, and Russia – and unfortunately it is in short supply, he writes.
Read the commentary in German here.
For background, read the factsheet Gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 links Germany to Russia, but splits Europe and the article Putin and Merkel meet to find solution on gas pipeline Nord Stream 2.
This summer’s record-breaking temperatures and forest fires have demonstrated to the public the enormous threat climate change poses to humanity, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and co-author of the recently-published “hothouse Earth” report, told The Guardian. “I think that in the future, people will look back on 2018 as the year when climate reality hit,” he said. “This is the moment when people start to realise that global warming is not a problem for future generations, but for us now.”
Read the article in English here.
For background, read the article Hot summer turns up the heat on Germany’s coal commission.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / ARD
The debate between politicians and scientists in one of Germany’s most popular political talk shows – Anne Will – makes clear that this year’s heat wave and resulting draught is unlikely to fundamentally change Germany’s climate policy, writes Joachim Müller-Jung in a TV review in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Politicians are often not willing to translate climate change into concrete action for fear of alienating voters. “No one wants to admit that the political parties each make policy for a specific clientele, that lobbyism is more powerful than ever, and that ‘doing without’ must become part of a sustainable economy,” writes Müller-Jung.
For background, read the CLEW articles Germany's power system weathers heat wave despite fossil plant curbs and Hot summer turns up the heat on Germany’s coal commission.