“Let them eat coal”
Five of the G7 countries are burning more coal now than before the Copenhagen climate change conference in 2009, while the G7 coal plants together emit twice as much CO2 from burning fuel than the entire African continent, a study by development organisation Oxfam found. The paper, titled, “Let them eat coal – Why the G7 must stop burning coal to tackle climate change and fight hunger,” calls on the G7 heads of state and government to come up with binding plans for phasing out the use of coal power.
Oxfam also commissioned the think-tank E3G to review the current coal situation in G7 countries and identify a timeline under which coal use could feasibly be ended. The researchers suggest that France and Italy could phase out coal by the early 2020s, the UK by 2023, the US and Canada by 2030, Japan by 2035 and Germany by 2040. They highlight that Germany is “in the midst of one of the most ambitious energy transformations in the world” but criticise that its coal use has increased since 2009 and that most of it “is the dirtiest form of coal – lignite.”
Chris Littlecott, senior policy advisor at E3G said at a press conference in Berlin that the US and Canada had already started or agreed to shutting down old coal-fired power stations, and the UK, Canada, and France are not going to build any (unabated) coal plants.
Claudia Kemfert from the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) said at the same press conference that in Germany at least 3 gigawatts of hard coal and 6 gigawatts of lignite capacity would have to be retired if Germany wanted to meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets.
“G7 climate talks: environment minister demands end of coal, oil and gas”
“I hope that the G7 will offer a clear orientation, in that we need a climate neutral global economy within this century,” Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks told Spiegel Online in an interview ahead of the G7 summit in Bavarian Elmau this weekend. She further hoped that the G7 countries would commit to giving their fair share to international climate finance in accordance with their promises at the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009.
Read the interview in German here.
“Disputed natural gas exploitation: Merkel’s advisors promote fracking”
The president of the National Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech), Henning Kagermann, advises Germany to enable research on and usage of fracking technology, Spiegel Online writes. In a study to be published next week, Kagermann, who Spiegel Online says is a confidant of Angela Merkel, argues that fracking should be further explored and that many of the federal parliament's concerns are not well founded. The parliament’s environment committee will discuss changes to a fracking law draft which bans fracking in most areas on Monday. Parliamentarians from both the Social Democrats and the conservative Christian Democrats have been pressing the Environment Ministry to adopt even stricter rules against fracking in the new law but Kagermann believes the risks of fracking are manageable and that fracking gas could be used “as a bridge from the fossil energy age to the renewables age.”
Read the article in German here.
"Energiewende gets municipal utilities into trouble"
The heads of the Asociation of German Cities, Ulrich Maly, and of the Association of Local Utilities, Ivo Gönner, are calling for more support for efficient power plants in an interview with the Frankfurter Rundschau because many local utilities have invested in plants that don't earn money anymore.
The utilities have built modern gas-fired plants to complement the move into a more decentralised power supply based on renewables, but this system was in danger as wholesale power prices have slumped, Gönner told the paper. Many local utilities were in trouble, posing a threat to the municipalities' budgets.
Maly added that overcapacity in the market had to be reduced but the pressure on gas-fired plants was wrong as they would be needed after 2022 once nuclear plants were all switched off. Capacity markets could be a solution and the government's plans to bet on a reformed wholesale power market alone bore many risks, Maly said.
Read the interview in German here.
"G7 set for critical climate talks as Paris summit looms"
Climate will feature as Germany’s Angela Merkel chairs talks in the Schloss Elmau castle, Alex Pashley writes for climate action news and analysis website Responding to Climate Change (RTCC). On Thursday Merkel indicated it was an “important issue” for the group, which would discuss how it can deliver more green funds to developing countries and accelerate its own carbon cutting plans, Pashley writes, citing an interview with Canada’s CBC News.
Read the RTCC article here.
Read a transcript of the CBC interview here.
Read the CLEW preview of the G7 summit here.