In the media: Obama's Energiewende
“With greetings to Paris”
The German environment ministry and several NGOs welcomed President Obama’s clean power deal as increasing the chances of achieving an effective climate treaty with binding obligations for all nations in Paris, Christopher Schrader reports in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. But calculations by universities and thinktanks in the US show that Obama’s plan could have been far more ambitious, Schrader writes. The new CO2 reduction targets are very low compared to European ones, also because the reference year is not 1990 as it is here but 2005, a year when greenhouse gas emissions in the US were pretty much at their highest, Schrader says. If Obama’s targets of 26-28 percent emission reduction by 2030 were using 1990 as a base year they would be reduced by half.
“Obama surges ahead”
Obama’s clean power plan is a strong signal to the international community who will come together in Paris in December to decide upon a global climate treaty, the Thorsten Knuf writes in the Frankfurter Rundschau. Compared to previous US governments, Obama’s administration wants to play a constructive role in these negotiations and stricter emission rules for the US are supposed to encourage countries like China, India, Brazil and South Africa to increase climate action. Green politician Oliver Krischer said: “The world needs pioneers that are able to promote climate action, also against resistance within their own countries.”
“Window dressing instead of awakening”
No country has ever succeeded in getting other countries to follow suit by presenting ambitious climate and decarbonisation targets ahead of climate conferences, writes Klaus Stratmann in an opinion piece for the Handelsblatt. But now US President Obama is doing what Europe and Germany have tried and failed, even though his announcements in the Clean Power Plan are generally correct. Per capita emissions in the US are still “absurdly high” and the US has excellent conditions for producing cheap renewable power from wind and solar – it is good that Obama wants to use these resources, Stratmann says.
Deutschlandradio / RBB Inforadio
“A process that is going in the right direction”
Klaus Töpfer, former German environment minister and executive director of the UN environment programme complimented President Obama’s new climate policy of reducing emissions by 32 percent by 2030 compared to 2005. Obama doesn’t only want to switch power generation from coal to gas but also wants to invest in renewables, Töpfer said in an interview with Deutschlandradio Kultur. This isn’t for ideological reasons only but also because the president has seen the economic potential of renewables. Unfortunately the amount of CO2 reductions envisaged by Obama’s plan was not ambitious enough, Töpfer said. On RBB Inforadio, Töpfer said that Obama’s phase-out of coal power, however, was more consistent than in Germany.
“Obama’s climate transition is not for green dreamers”
Cleaner air, less consumption of fossil fuels and less dependence on questionable regimes in charge of the energy market – these are desirable targets of Obama’s clean power plan, writes Welt correspondent Clemens Wergin in an op-ed. But the question is what price a country has to pay for achieving them and whether it will damage the competitiveness of its industry by doing so. So far the president has followed policies that have made energy cheap, e.g. supporting the fracking boom, something that “left wing politicians and environmental activists” in Germany blocked. But now Obama is following the paths of European states, which will cost the US jobs in the coal industry and will see power bills rise.
Read the op-ed in German here.
“Important signal for climate action”
German environment minister Barbara Hendricks said that President Obama’s clean power plan showed that he was making climate action a priority in his second term. She said it was an “important signal” for the UN climate conference in Paris.
See the government press release in German here.
Increase in energy consumption / less coal and oil in the energy mix
Primary energy consumption has increased in Germany in the first six months of 2015, compared to the same time in 2014, the AG Energiebilanzen reports after assessing preliminary figures. Energy consumption was 3 percent higher, mostly because of lower temperatures in 2015 – if corrected for the temperature effect, consumption may have fallen slightly in the first two quarters, the AG Energiebilanzen reports. Usage of natural gas increased by 14 percent – again because of the lower temperatures. Consumption of hard coal and lignite both fell by 3 percent. “Due to the further development of wind power and good wind conditions, power generation from hard coal fell by 4 percent compared to 2014,” the researchers write adding that the use for steal production was down 1 percent. Power generation from lignite decreased by 3 percent. Renewables increased their share in the energy mix by almost 8 percent. Power generation from onshore and offshore wind turbines increased by 40 percent due to very favourable wind conditions.
Read the press release in German here.
“Power costs of energy intensive industries – an international comparison”
Analysing the effect of power prices on German industry competitiveness, researchers at Fraunhofer ISI and Ecofys found that exemptions from levies and taxes on electricity prices for energy intensive companies “support the competitiveness of the industry and have positive macroeconomic effects.” The levies promote renewable technologies in Germany and are paid predominantly via electricity prices. The study also found that energy-intensive, large-scale consumers from the metalworking industry pay the lowest power prices in the analysed countries in Europe, Asia and North America.
Download the study in German here.
Read a CLEW factsheet about power prices for households in Germany here.
“German winds make central Europe shiver”
Germany’s neighbours are putting pressure on the Energiewende pioneer to get a handle on its power loop flows – its unexpected flow of energy into other EU grids, reports Kalina Oroschakoff in Politico. Since Germany’s grids lack the capacity to handle all of its wind production domestically, other countries – mainly The Czech Republic and Poland— are, literally, being left in the dark when their grids become overwhelmed by the surges in power. Germany has been warned to either “increase its transmission system, or be shut off,” according to one EU diplomat. Germany has already signed a pact with 11 member states to address the problem of power loop flows and integrating power markets. Brussels has also stepped up political and financial efforts to link at least 10 percent of the EU’s installed electricity production capacity by 2020.
Read the entire report in English here.