"Is Sigmar Gabriel secretly burying the Energiewende?"
A “progress report” from the Economics Ministry on the Energiewende shows evidence of a political struggle over the future course of energy and climate policy in Germany, writes Zeit Online, which has obtained a copy of the report. The report, designed to pinpoint trends and pitfalls in the Energiewende, has raised concerns in the Environment Ministry because it incorporates the goals of competitiveness and securing the energy supply into the project, Zeit Online writes. Critics say this relativises the Energiewende and thus waters down its main goal of achieving a green economy, according to the article. At the moment, Germans are debating whether to keep coal-fired plants up and running to ensure there is enough backup power when there are lulls in wind and solar power. The coal industry, utilities, energy-intensive industry and trade unions favor keeping them open, while proponents of the Energiewende argue that closing them will help Germany meet its currently unattainable CO2 reduction targets.
See the article in German here.
"Finance Minister Schäuble wants to block good conditions for energy-efficient building renovation"
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble wants to cut tax incentives for energy efficiency improvements in buildings to plug holes in tax intake, Silke Kersting writes in the Handelsblatt. This is up for discussion in a meeting of state secretaries Friday, according to government sources, the paper says. Promoting energy efficiency measures is a cornerstone of an action plan that Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Environment Minister are currently devising to get Germany back on track to meet its climate targets. It aims to cut CO2 emissions by 2020 to 40 percent under the 1990 level, a goal it is currently seen missing.
"Wind needs coal"
Garrelt Duin (Social Democrat), economy minister of North Rhine-Westphalia - Germany’s most populous state - writes in an opinion piece for Die Zeit that “politics should not prioritise ecology”. Affordability of power and energy security are just as important as the environmental aspect, Duin says and stresses that a phase-out of coal would endanger thousands of jobs. Instead he suggests more efforts in energy efficient refurbishment of homes.
"Woidke: Energiewende only with coal"
The new state premier of Brandenburg, Dietmar Woidke (Social Democrats) said an exit from lignite at this point in time would be “negligent”. In an opinion piece for Der Tagesspiegel, he writes that lignite is an “adequate bridging technology into the age of renewable energies”.
"We have to exit coal"
The environmental consultant to the German government and head of the think tank German Development Institute, Dirk Messner, warned that Germany may lose its leading role in climate action. “We have to exit coal,” he said according to the Frankfurter Rundschau, suggesting a gradual phase-out of power from coal in order to achieve the 2020 greenhouse gas reduction targets.
Green Climate Fund
20 states have pledged 9.3 billion US dollars to the United Nations' Green Climate Fund (GCF) at a conference in Berlin, Spiegel Online reports. The money is to be used for implementing climate policies in developing countries to make them more resilient to climate change. Germany has already promised 750 million euros, the US three billion dollars and the UK 1.2 billion dollars. Russia participated but did not want to contribute; China and India did not contribute. The amount fall slightly short of the original target of 10 billion dollars, but Germany’s Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks still called it an “encouraging sign” and was confident that further pledges by the end of this year will increase the total sum.
See the press-release from the Ministry for Environment in English here.
See the Spiegel-Online article in German here.
Read an analysis of the GCF in English at The Carbon Brief here.
Environmental Defense Fund
"Two Political Lessons from Germany’s Energiewende"
Peter Sopher writes in the last of a five-part blog series for the Environmental Defense Fund on the Energiewende that Germany’s experience provides two big takeaways for countries planning a similar transition to green energy: First, they should set should take sustained, robust agendas through a coalition of entities to achieve popular support and second, they need transition policies that give compelling incentives for established utilities to invest in renewables early on. This is especially true if the energy transition is dependent on these utilities to provide power when sun and wind are unavailable, and for investment in a new grid, he writes. Germany is currently grappling with the issue of these costs to utilities – either for shutting down nuclear and coal-fired plants, or for keeping the latter running as backup power.
See the blog post in English here.
Skilled trades sector invests in energy efficiency
Almost half of companies in the skilled trades sector have invested in measures to make their businesses more energy efficient between 2011 and 2013, an analysis by the KfW Bank and Central Association of the German skilled trades (Zentralverband des Deutschen Handwerks, ZDH) has found. Their main incentive is the comparably high share of energy costs of their total operating costs. In addition, the article points out that 18 percent of skilled trades companies are directly working with energy efficiency products or services.
See the study in German here.