“Climate levy on coal: Gabriel puts his foot down”
With pressure and criticism from coalition partner CDU-CSU increasing, Economy and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel has defended his proposal of a climate levy for old coal-fired power stations, TV station ZDF reports. “The fact is, these suggestions have of course been agreed together with Chancellor Merkel,” Gabriel said. Now, the Chancellor's own CDU is obviously trying to scrap the emission reduction target (-40% by 2020), the Minister said. There would be no coal exit, no mines or power stations in the Rhineland or Lusatia would have to close, Gabriel reiterated, saying: “As a Minister for Economic Affairs as well as chairman of the Social Democrats, I would never ever push for policies that could lead to these feared structural ruptures.”
Read the article in German here.
Reuters / Sandbag
Alternative to coal levy presented – cancellation of ETS allowances
Georg Nüßlein, deputy head of the CDU-CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag said it would be cheaper for Germany to directly buy CO2 allowances from the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) to save an extra 22 million tonnes of the greenhouse gas, instead of implementing the climate levy suggested by the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Reuters reports. The climate levy would cost the national economy up to 5 billion euros while buying the 22 million CO2 allowances would only amount to 150 million euros, Nüßlein said. This money would be paid by all consumers through a surcharge, he suggested. Buying up allowances would further the European climate targets, but the German 40 percent reduction target would probably still be missed, Reuters writes.
Environmental NGO Sandbag published a short analysis of the Christian Democrat’s proposal, saying that this would not be a plausible alternative to the proposed climate levy. “Targeted policies to deliver real emissions reductions are more important than the indirect reductions implied by cancellation of emissions allowances," they write.
See the Reuters report in German here.
“The end is imminent”
The fight over coal will culminate in opposing protests planned for this weekend, writes Michael Bauchmüller in an op-ed for the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Environmental activists will form a human chain around the mine in Garzweiler, while trade union members will meet in Berlin to demonstrate against the “social black out of entire regions,” he writes, adding that “Germany is experiencing the end of a life-long lie.” For years, members of the government conjured the future of coal while pushing for climate protection at the same time. But we now see the beginning of the end of coal, Bauchmüller says. Coal power stations and mining operations will disappear. This trend has already begun because there are no new brown and hard coal-fired power stations planned, while renewable power is cheaper than new coal plants. Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel has proposed a “very clever” measure that demands a climate levy from the oldest lignite-fired power stations, he says. This proposal will not cause a structural rupture, rather the trade unions themselves would be at fault if they succeeded in thwarting Gabriel’s plans. The coal exit would then occur later and more abruptly, he says. Chancellor Angela Merkel should follow Gabriel’s lead and ahead of the G7 meeting in June become the “climate chancellor” she was once known as, the author writes. But currently she is watching silently as Gabriel’s ideas are shot down by her own party and countered with sometimes outrageous suggestions.
Read the op-ed in German here.
Study spots “tender shoots” in efficiency industry
Companies specialising in energy efficiency continue to grow rapidly and the industry has become more optimistic about future prospects, according to a poll by the German Industry Initiative for Energy Efficiency (DENEFF) and business consultancy pwc. On average, businesses in the sector increased sales and staff by eight percent year-on-year, according to poll results. “Last year, the sombre mood in the industry left us a bit perplexed, but now we can clearly see tender shoots," commented Volker Breisig from pwc, who stressed the significance of the government’s National Action Plan (NAPE) for energy efficiency for the industry. But the association also warned current growth rates were still completely insufficient if Germany’s national efficiency and climate targets are to be met. The authors estimated on the basis of last year’s poll that the industry had total sales of 162 billion euros and employed 850,000 people in Germany in 2013.
Find the press release about the poll in German here.
“Reform of renewable law misses central target”
The energy ministry has failed in its aim of distributing the costs of the Energiewende more equally, writes Jürgen Döschner on tagesschau.de. Last year’s reform of the renewable energy act was intended to reduce industry rebates but instead, more companies receive the discount on electricity costs now than before the overhaul – their numbers increased by almost 100 to a new record of 2,180. “The burden on consumers who have to pay the full green energy surcharge rose to a record 1.37 cents per KWh because of industry rebates. For a four person household, this adds up to 60 euros per year,” writes Döschner. “Gabriel has in actual fact never reduced the number of entitled companies and now even wants to increase it further,” writes Döschner, who says a planned new law will have this effect.
Find the article in German here.
“Bavaria threatens legal action against power lines”
If no compromise on the new power lines to transport wind power from the north to the industrial south were reached, Bavaria could legally challenge the federal government's grid plans, Bavaria’s finance minister Markus Söder said. Last week Söder had presented a reform of regional planning laws that could also be used to prohibit power lines through new protected landscape. According to the current legal status, the federal government is in charge of grid planning – something that the Bavarian government agreed to in 2013.
Read the article in German here.
“Indignation over end of 50 offshore wind parks”
The German government won’t permit the construction of 50 offshore wind parks in the North Sea for which investors have been seeking approval, Henning Baethge reports on shz.de. If additional offshore installations came online, the target of 6.5 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2020 would be exceeded, the government agency BSH has told the project planners. The Foundation Offshore Wind Energy criticised the planning stop, saying that if the government wanted to ensure offshore development continues after 2020 it would have to ensure security for planning and investment in the sector.
See the article in German here.