In the media: The Climate Chancellor returns; coal splits government
“Climate debate splits government”
The discussion about how Germany can achieve its climate goals has raised tensions within the government, reports the Berliner Morgenpost. Armin Laschet, deputy head of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party, accused energy minister Sigmar Gabriel of violating the coalition treaty with his plans for an additional levy on old coal-fired power plants. The levy didn’t make sense economically and therefore must not become reality, Laschet wrote in a letter to Gabriel, seen by the newspaper.
Laschet is also head of the CDU in coal-mining area North Rhine-Westphalia, where resistance against the levy has been particularly pronounced. Laschet warns the levy could trigger a wave of power plant closures and cost tens of thousands of jobs. Laschet argues Gabriel should instead honour the coalition treaty and save emissions with combined heat and power plants and a stronger emphasis on building insulation and modern heating systems.
Read the article in German here.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung
“The climate chancellor is back”
After a six-year break, Chancellor Angela Merkel is planning a comeback as saviour of the world, writes Ralph Bollmann in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. Merkel senses this year offers the opportunity for a success after the spectacular failure of the Copenhagen climate conference. That is because the US and China are now much more open to an agreement than six years ago, he writes. Germany is hosting the G7 meeting in two weeks. For this reason, Merkel made her strong commitment clear at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue last week and hopes the Paris climate summit can become a triumph, Bollmann argues. But the domestic debate about a coal levy poses a serious problem for Merkel’s credibility as climate champion, because she has kept silent about the proposal, according to Bollmann.
Read the CLEW article about the Petersberg Climate Dialogue here.
“Germany’s decision on coal brings a clash of wills”
The conflict about the coal levy is coming to a head and threatens Germany’s ambition to be an environmental leader, writes Nick Butler in the Financial Times. “In political terms, the decision on what happens to coal is a crucial test of will between two of the key forces in German society — the green movement on one side and industry and the unions on the other. The momentum that has been with the greens is being tested,” writes Butler. The outcome of the debate will have repercussions beyond Germany because if the levy becomes law, chances are something similar will be applied EU-wide, according to Butler. “If the trade unions and the utilities win we may be seeing the turning point — the moment at which the green agenda reaches the limits of the possible in terms of the sacrifices electorates are prepared to make.”
Find the article in English here.
Read the CLEW factsheet on coal in Germany here.
“Germany studying three plans to cut emissions from power plants”
Germany’s economy ministry is currently weighing up three proposals to cut emissions from the energy industry in order to achieve its climate targets, reports Bloomberg. Those include a proposal from mining union IG BCE to close lignite plants “step by step,” according to the report. Gabriel said his ministry’s proposal was the lowest-cost option but signalled he was ready for other ideas. “Nothing has been taken off the table,” Gabriel told lawmakers in the lower house of parliament in Berlin, according to the report.
Read the article in English here.
“Budget and climate”
The economy ministry’s proposal for a coal levy does not make economic sense, argues Hubertus Bardt, head of science at industry think tank Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW), in a commentary for Handelsblatt. The plan would force power station operators to withdraw more permits from the European emissions trading system (ETS) than they actually use, writes Bardt. “It is a break with the logic of emissions trading. A tonne of CO2 from one source would suddenly cost three or four tonnes as much as the same tonne from another source. This does not fit to a market system geared to finding the cheapest options to avoid emissions.”
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
“Renewables are competitive”
The German Energiewende was the right decision and the country is determined to continue to lead the way in the fight against climate change, writes German environment minister Barbara Hendricks in a reply to heavy criticism from Bjorn Lomborg, a political scientist and director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center. Lomborg had argued in the same newspaper that renewable technology was not mature enough and was too expensive to stop climate change. He said the money should be spent in other areas such as health to help the poor. Hendricks argues renewables are already competitive today as large solar plants and wind farms produce power at the same cost as new hard coal or gas-fired power stations. The worldwide rise of renewables forecast by the International Energy Agency was partly due to German leadership and investment in the technology, Hendricks writes. She also questions Lomborg's credentials and suggests he is publicising political ideas rather than scientific findings.
Read the Lomborg article in German here.
Find the entry about Lomborg's article in CLEW’s News Digest here.
“Germany must bury more power transmission lines – minister”
In order to overcome opposition against crucial power lines that take electricity generated by windpower in the north to industry in the south, more cables must be laid underground, economy minister Sigmar Gabriel said according to a Reuters report. "I believe we need a willingness, in particular the financial willingness, to put more cables underground. The technology for that has improved considerably in recent years,” Gabriel said in an interview with ZDF television. The state of Bavaria would have to accept power lines running through the southern German state and could not push them off onto to its neighbouring states of Hesse and Baden-Wuerttemberg, Gabriel also said, according to the Reuters report.
Read the article in English here.