“Resistance at the bucket wheel”
10,000 coal workers demonstrated in Berlin on Saturday against energy minister Sigmar Gabriel’s planned climate levy. These were supported by the company leadership of RWE, trade unions IG BCE and Verdi, as well as several state premiers, the Süddeutsche Zeitung writes. At the same time, 6,000 environmental activists formed a 7.5 kilometre-long human chain at the open cast brown coal mine near Garzweiler in North-Rhine Westphalia, marking the threshold that the mine in their opinion mustn’t cross.
“Scientists doubt coal concept”
There is big controversy about whether or not the climate levy on old coal-fired power plants will have a positive effect on the climate, Daniel Wetzel writes in Die Welt. Many researchers have commended the additional payments that would be required from the oldest and most polluting power stations if they emit CO2 above a certain level. They say these would help reduce emissions and be compatible with the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), without causing too much of a disruption in the German coal sector. But other scientists, namely from the Institute of Energy Economics at the University of Cologne (EWI), and the Rhineland-Westphalia Institute for Economic Research (RWI) believe that cutting power generation from German fossil plants through a climate levy will just shift emissions production to elsewhere in Europe. Instead, the German government should simply buy up ETS allowances and put them out of service to achieve an emissions reduction “somewhere in Europe,” Marc Oliver Bettzüge, Head of the EWI, told the newspaper.
Read the article in German here.
Dagens Industri / Tagesspiegel
Vattenfall CEO sticks to plans to sell German brown coal operations
Environmental groups have called for Vattenfall to hold onto its German brown coal operations and simply close them down, rather than selling them as planned, but the company’s CEO reiterates in an op-ed in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri that Vattenfall will sell the lignite operations. Magnus Hall writes that the company will act on a commercial basis and that holding onto a business in order to close it down is not commercially viable. He says Germany’s energy mix is an issue for Germany and its own policy makers and not for Swedish politicians or Vattenfall. He also says it is uncertain whether shuttering lignite operations would significantly reduce carbon emissions, because of the risk that Germany may have to import other fossil fuels. Shoring up the emissions trading system in Europe is the best way to reduce carbon emissions in the EU, he says. Vattenfall has to take responsibility for its own portfolio and aims to be as sustainable as possible, he says, noting that it does not have a brown coal operation in its future portfolio.
Separately, the Tagesspiegel reports that environmental activists held a “fake” press conference at Vattenfall’s Berlin headquarters, pretending to announce the company would hang onto the brown coal business in Lusatia and announcing a new “responsibility initiative”. It also sent out press releases with the same information, the paper says.
Read the story in Dagens Industri in Swedish here.
Read the story in the Tagesspiegel in German here.
ntv / dpa / AFP
“Coalition summit postpones all contentious issues”
German goverment coalition leaders met late into Sunday night at the chancellor’s office, but few decisions came out of it, TV station ntv writes on its website, citing dpa and AFP sources. Important decisions on the power grid expansion and the climate levy on old coal-fired power stations – a highly contested suggestion by economy and energy minister Sigmar Gabriel – have been postponed, the news agencies report.
See the report in German here.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)
“Christian Democrats want new dialogue with Gabriel on coal argument”
The parliamentary group of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) has asked energy minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) to join into new energy talks, provided he would answer more questions about his climate and energy policy, Andreas Mihm reports in the FAZ. Negotiations about the power market reform proposal, due this summer, have been idle since March, Mihm writes. The reform project concerns far more than the hotly debated climate levy, such as the power market reform, grid expansion and support for combined heat and power plants, the author says.
Frankfurter Allgmeine Zeitung (FAZ)
“Development of wind energy stalls”
Wind power development in the large German states of North-Rhine Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg is not making much progress, the FAZ writes. Both states could miss their targets for power production from wind of 15 and 10 percent respectively by 2020. The current share of wind power in their power supply is only between two and four percent, the paper says. Resistance from citizens against wind energy projects is growing in Germany’s southern and western states, the article says, particularly because these regions are not very windy, reducing power production from turbines.