In a telephone call, US President Donald Trump told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that he wants to help her make the G20 summit in Hamburg this week a success, according to the White House, reports Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ). Before the phone call, Merkel had already lowered expectations, writes SZ. Merkel said: “We do know certain positions of the US administration and I don’t expect these to be suspended due to a two-day trip to Hamburg, and suddenly appear in the communiqué.”
Read the article in German here.
Find CLEW’s full background on the Hamburg summit in the dossier G20 2017 - Climate and energy at the Hamburg summit.
Clean Energy Wire / T20
The lack of a consensus at the G20 could become actually a success for the German presidency, if it succeeded in building alliances for individual topics, in essence breaking with the forum’s convention of consensus-based decision-making, Dennis Snower, president of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy told journalists at a Think Tank 20 (T20) press briefing in Berlin. “In the past, everything that was not consensus, was simply not considered,” said Snower. This time, it would be different, because Chancellor Angela Merkel had announced that she would stand by her principles and stand up for topics like climate protection, while not looking to be on a collision course with any one member state. “This would mean that the G20 could have an influence, even if there was no consensus by all,” said Snower. Dirk Messner, Director of the German Development Institute (DIE) said it remained to be seen if US President Trump would accept a communiqué that recognised such a 19+1 solution regarding climate. Yet, Trump could not stop other heads of state to “communicate ambitious steps forward”, for example at a press conference, or in joint papers after the summit.
For background, read the CLEW article G20 climate, energy plan goes to the wire at Hamburg summit and the interview “Merkel has to play her cards right at the G20 summit in Hamburg”.
The conservative alliance of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU and its Bavarian sister party CSU has pledged to stick to the country’s national climate targets, including the long fought-over Climate Action Plan 2050. The two parties’ joint programme for September’s federal election calls the Paris Agreement on climate the “biggest success to date in international efforts to contain global warming”, adding that the parties regret the decision by the United States to leave the agreement. “Together with France and other countries, we will champion decisively for the preservation and success of the agreement,” the programme reads. It contains a commitment to expand renewable energy use, and states that electricity supply has to be “secure, affordable, and clean”. Overall, the programme is weak on detailed energy and climate policy proposals.
On climate, energy, clean transport, and heating, the parties say they aim to:
- continue the integration of renewables into the energy market
- continue research into, and development of, storage options, in order to make Germany a home to battery cell production again
- make accelerated grid expansion a priority
- stick to the Climate Action Plan 2050 by using market-based instruments rather than government orders
- create a structural development plan for coal regions in parallel with the “long-term exit from lignite”
- drive the coupling of the power, transport, and heating sectors
- keep modern diesel cars as an important option until the final breakthrough of e-cars, and reject bans on specific types of cars
- support the transition to alternative fuel vehicles in transportation, and pursue an open technology strategy to promote the use of alternative fuels, e-mobility, and fuel cells
- create a country-wide infrastructure of 50,000 charging stations for electric and hydrogen vehicles
- create a framework to make Germany a market leader in alternative and environmentally friendly modes of transportation, such as electric and autonomous vehicles
- make Germany a leader in new mobility concepts based on digitalisation
Read more about other parties’ energy and climate policy ideas in the CLEW dossier on the German federal elections.
G20 member states are beginning to decarbonise their economies, but the required investment in fossil fuels remains so high that the “well below 2°Celsius” global warming reduction target will be “missed by a wide margin”, according to the Brown to Green Report 2017 compiled by Climate Transparency, an international consortium of environmental organisations. The report evaluates the countries’ individual transition to a low-carbon economy, for example regarding emissions reductions, climate policy, finance, and decarbonisation. Coal has become a major issue in Germany, and while experts rate the country’s policy performance high, they point to the need for the country to improve its sectoral targets and to develop an adequate plan for the phase-out of coal.
For background on the G20, read the CLEW dossiers The energy transition and climate change and G20 2017 - Climate and energy at the Hamburg summit.
“With climate protection and Panda-politics, China has become one of Germany’s most important allies”
Due to its inner unity, reliability and common interests like free trade and climate protection, China has become the most important G20 ally for Germany, besides other EU states, writes Finn Mayer-Kuckuk for Frankfurter Rundschau. Major topics of dispute still exist, such as in human rights questions, but regarding the energy transition and climate protection, the two countries are a good match, writes Mayer-Kuckuk.
For background, read the CLEW article Germany, China urge US to remain in climate agreement.
Russian natural gas supplier Gazprom’s plan to expand existing direct pipelines to Germany, a project known as Nord Stream 2, is facing international, regional and local opposition, while the German government continues to support it, report Weixin Zha and Anna Shiryaevskaya for Bloomberg.
Read the article in English here.
Germany’s shift from fossil and nuclear power generation to an energy system based on renewables and energy efficiency offers big opportunities for the country’s roughly 900 municipal utilities (or Stadtwerke), writes Jürgen Flauger in the business daily Handelsblatt. While an analysis by rating agency Euler Hermes shows that most of them are currently ill equipped and likely to see deteriorating finances, a more decentralized energy system can play to their strengths. “The municipal utilities have to finally adjust their power generation rigorously to the Energiewende and fight for their customers with better services and new products,” Flauger argues.
Find the article (behind paywall) in German here.
Get background on the big utilities fight for the market in the Energiewende in a CLEW dossier and background on municipal utilities in a factsheet.
Germany’s fossil fuel support policy makes the energy transition more expensive, shifts follow-up costs to taxpayers and costs the country 46 billion euros annually, according to a study by Green Budget Germany (FÖS) commissioned by Greenpeace. The transport sector accounted for 28.5 billion euros, with 8 billion euros for the support of diesel fuel, writes Greenpeace in a press release.