22 Oct 2018, 12:31
Julian Wettengel

Merkel aims to change law to prevent diesel driving bans

Clean Energy Wire / CDU / Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, campaigning for her party ahead of the regional elections in the federal state of Hesse, said her government aims to amend existing legislation to prevent diesel driving bans in cities where nitrogen oxide limits are only slightly exceeded. “We believe that driving bans are generally not proportionate when limits are exceeded only marginally,” Merkel said at a press conference in Berlin, held to support the Hesse branch of her Christian Democratic Party (CDU). “We want to change the federal immissions law.” Under the amended legislation, driving bans could only be seen as a proportionate measure to ensure clean air in cities where 50 micrograms nitrogen oxide per cubic metre is exceeded, said Merkel. This could prevent driving bans in 51 German cities, including Berlin and Frankfurt. In 14 other cities that exceed limits, more needs to be done, including software and hardware retrofits for diesel vehicles, said Merkel. The CDU has published a position paper on the issue.

Find the press conference video in German here, the CDU position paper in German here, and a Reuters article in English here.

Read the article Fresh Green upset in Hesse state election may derail Merkel government and the factsheet Diesel driving bans in Germany – The Q&A.

Manager Magazin

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s proposal to change the law to prevent diesel driving bans in several German cities is a “cheap argument and an all-too transparent attempt to please voters ahead of the state elections in Hesse” this Sunday, writes Lutz Reiche in an opinion piece for Manager Magazin. “It must not be allowed that driving bans, imposed by independent courts, can be overturned via a modified emission protection law that basically just increases limit values […]. But this is exactly what the latest initiative of the CDU would achieve,” writes Reiche.

Find the opinion piece in German here.

Read the article Fresh Green upset in Hesse state election may derail Merkel government and the factsheet Diesel driving bans in Germany – The Q&A.

Süddeutsche Zeitung / ZDF

Several German states are demanding that the federal government and the EU should protect the steel industry from stricter environmental regulations and rising electricity costs, reports Süddeutsche Zeitung. In a draft of the joint final statement for today’s National Steel Summit (22 October), seen by the newspaper, the states call for more free European Union Emissions Trading System (ETS) allowances for the steel sector, and compensation for rising power prices due to an increase in ETS prices. In addition, the states warn the German government not to introduce additional requirements for the steel industry when it adopts a national climate protection law next year. The final paper states: "The climate doesn't care at all where CO₂ is produced.” This is why comparatively climate-friendly plants in Germany need to be "strengthened", the draft says.
In an interview with public broadcaster ZDF, economy minister Peter Altmaier said the government aimed to ensure that Germany continued to produce the “cleanest steel”. “We have to make sure it’s not just others – who do not care about climate and environment protection – do the business,” said Altmaier. “It’s not about climate protection or steel, it’s about climate protection and steel.”

Read the article in German here, and watch the interview in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article Rising CO2-price could trigger German coal phase-out in 5 years.

Costs stemming from differences in regulation in individual countries have the potential to distort an otherwise competitive level playing field in cross-border renewable energy auctions in Northwestern Europe, writes energy think tank Agora Energiewende*, citing a study by consultancies Ecofys and Eclareon. For example, regulatory factors, such as taxes and financing instruments, frequently play a larger role than wind resource availability in determining the cost of wind power generation, meaning that the cost per megawatt can be much higher in one country than in the neighbouring state. “EU rules currently fail to consider that regulations governing the development of renewable energy projects differ considerably between countries,” said Matthias Buck, director of European Energy Policy at Agora Energiewende.

Find the press release in English here and the study in English here.

For background, read the article Gov advisors say Energiewende will only thrive in European framework.

*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.


The council of federal state governments (Bundesrat) has called on the German government to remove several regulatory hurdles for renewables support in cities. In their decision, the states said they want the government to better support tenant electricity projects and call for combined heat and power (CHP) to be used more intelligently. The federal government can now decide whether or not to take up the states’ demands.

Find an article on the topic in German here (TOP 18).

For background, read the CLEW interview Germany needs plan to unleash solar power again- researcher.

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
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