(Modifies headline to clearify sourcing)
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
“The VW scandal calls Brussels into action”
Even after the VW emissions cheating scandal, it appears the German government is trying to prevent stricter emissions limits at the EU level, reports the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. In an internal discussion of EU Commission proposals, the German representative is said to have pushed for less stricter rules, the newspaper learned in Brussels. Insiders said it was as if the VW scandal had never happened.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
The shares of utilities E.ON and RWE leapt on Monday because economics minister Sigmar Gabriel said the stress test had shown the companies’ provisions for decommissioning nuclear power plants were sufficient, writes Christian Siedenbiedel in a commentary in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. He says investor relief is understandable, but there are reasons to view the shares with scepticism. “No one knows how much the nuclear phase-out will cost in the end. There might be a lot more coming.” He argues the stress test has not changed the meagre profit outlook for the “old utilities”.
Find more press reactions to the stress test results in yesterday’s News Digest here.
Find the CLEW dossier on “The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out” here.
Read the CLEW factsheet “Securing utility payments for the nuclear clean-up” here.
“Coal resurgence darkens Germans’ green image”
Germany’s reliance on coal threatens its reputation as global green innovator ahead of UN climate talks, reports Josie Le Blond in the Financial Times. The coal dependence “is undermining the government’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and casting doubt on Germany’s green credentials,” writes Le Blond, noting that Germany’s CO2 emissions rose in 2013. The government wanted to slap a levy on coal-fired power plants emissions this year, but underestimated the power of the coal lobby. The resulting compromise “demonstrates the kind of tensions that exist between Germany’s coal-dependent energy providers and the state’s declared environmental goals,” according to Le Blond.
Read the article in English here.
Find CLEW’s blow-by-blow account of the fight over the climate levy here.
Find 2014 emission data in the CLEW factsheet on Germany’s climate targets here.
For details on Germany’s power mix, consult our factsheet with corresponding graphs here.
Read the factsheet “Coal in Germany” here.
“When proposals disappear”
Energy policy makers and the German government need to clarify their plans for the renewable energy transition (Energiewende), says the head of the municipal utility association VKU, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung. According to Katherina Reiche, policy makers have long suggested that gas-powered electricity plants could supplement fluctuating power from renewables like wind and sun, but haven’t wanted to pay for this. Instead, politicians will rely on market mechanisms – pushing prices higher when power supply is short, she says. Theoretically, this may work, but it will also lead to extremely high prices in hours of short supply, Markus Balser and Michael Bauchmüller quote her as saying. Reiche told the paper: “I have the impression that one wants to pit different power suppliers against each other,” adding that first nuclear plants were slated for shut-down and now apparently coal. “Do we have to worry that gas will also soon be eliminated as a bridging technology?”
Read the article in German here.
Read about Germany's planned power market reforms here.
“In a trap”
The vision of a global agreement to limit CO2 emissions at the UN Paris Climate Summit (COP21) is threatened by continued subsidies for fossil-based energy sources, writes Klaus Stratmann in a commentary in the Handelsblatt. “The failure of the international community to act is dangerously intersected with a wave of investments in climate-damaging coal power plants, especially in energy hungry emerging countries,” he says. These countries are subsidising coal, gas and above all oil with hundreds of billions of dollars, he says, and little has changed in this area in the last five or ten years. Even worse, he points out, is that very little of this money trickles down to needy citizens of those countries. “Thus subsidies for fossil energy sources burden the CO2 accounts and above all the budgets of these countries,” he says. “It would be better to invest this money in climate-friendly technology.”
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
“EU says goodbye to binding climate goals”
According to a ten-page paper obtained by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the European Union is abandoning its plans for setting long-term climate goals for expanding renewable energy shares in the power mix and increasing energy efficiency. Concrete steps, such as how countries will increase the share of wind and solar energy by 2030, should be taken in national action plans, the newspaper writes. These plans can be adjusted at any time, however, if national conditions change, according to the paper. Germany had wanted to achieve binding targets for these currently unbinding goals, the newspaper says, but this was a step too far for many – besides Eastern European countries, also France and the UK were against this idea, the FAZ cites diplomatic sources as saying. In autumn 2014, heads of government agreed to raise the share of renewables to 27% of consumption and to increase energy efficiency by 27%, the FAZ says
Read a CLEW factsheet about Germany's emissions targets here.
“The principle of the alms bowl”
In an interview with the Handelsblatt, Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, says asking countries to contribute what they can to reducing CO2 emissions is like begging for money. This is “the principle of the alms bowl,” he says, adding that an agreement to keep the world from warming by more than 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century is unlikely at the summit. Despite the fact that most countries recognise the necessity to do so, they do not see the necessity for global cooperation, he says. The summit could have some successes, however, he says. For example, if countries manage to find a way to put a price on CO2. “Until now, one tonne of CO2 is being subsidised on average with 150 dollars. It’s no wonder that many countries are still depending on coal,” he says. Europe could start with its emissions trading scheme, which needs reform, he says. “In order for there to be an effect, we need a minimum price for CO2; 20 euros and upwards is imaginable. But the market stability reserve that the EU has agreed to is not helpful,” he says. “It is unrealistic to expect that CO2 emissions will fall without a reasonable price.”
Read the interview in German (behind a paywall) here.