18 Jul 2017, 00:00
Edgar Meza

Merkel contemplates coal exit / Germany's "poor carbon footprint"

ARD / Süddeutsche Zeitung

Chancellor Angel Merkel appears to have signalled the end of brown coal in Germany, Michael Bauchmüller writes in Süddeutsche Zeitung. In her traditional summer interview with broadcaster ARD, Merkel stated that working with affected regions to develop alternatives for coal mining employees as the first move is part of her CDU party‘s platform and that “then the exit can be contemplated”. The move would not only win the support of the Greens but also trump the left-of-centre SPD, which still supports brown coal mining in some areas, writes Bauchmüller. For Merkel, the decision addresses a failure during her three terms in office to adequately deal with coal. In 2005, Germany produced 990 million tonnes of greenhouse gases. Today, the country still produces 900 million tonnes. Without a concrete plan, she is in danger of missing her own 2020 climate protection target by more than 150 million tonnes, writes Bauchmüller.

Read the article in German here.

Watch the ARD interview with Chancellor Angela Merkel here.

General Anzeiger

Until now, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has not been the driving force behind climate protection, and if the party continues to govern with the Social Democrats (SPD) after this year’s election, a rapid coal exit would be a real surprise, Birgit Marschall writes in an opinion piece in General Anzeiger. “It is shameful that Germany, the land of the energy transition with such a large share of renewable energy, has at the same time such a poor carbon footprint,” Marschall writes. Germany‘s CO2 emissions have not declined despite its ambitious political goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. The country has so far reached 27 percent, and it will not reach its target unless the government accelerates the coal exit by immediately shutting down its 20 oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants, she adds.

Read the opinion piece in German here.

Find further information about Germany’s climate targets here.

dpa / Die Welt

Brown coal is causing a rift between the Social Democrat and Left Party coalition in the state of Brandenburg, Germany’s second biggest lignite mining region, according to a dpa report carried by Die Welt. Thomas Domres, head of the Left Party’s parliamentary group for energy and environmental policy in Brandenburg, contradicted comments made by Economy Minister Albrecht Gerber (SPD) that the state would reduce its 2030 climate protection targets. The idea was simply being considered, Domres said, adding that it remained to be seen whether the coalition government would endorse the plan. Gerber had told Der Spiegel that the state planned to lower its 2030 goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 72 percent compared to 1990 levels to between 55 and 62 percent. Gerber attributed the decision to the cancellation of a planned new lignite-fired power plant, and the continued operation of an older, existing plant.

Read the article in English here.


Germany’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020 and by at least 55 percent by 2030 looks to be in grave danger following reports that the state of Brandenburg may drastically soften its climate protection targets. The move would follow a similar decision by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The WWF is calling on the federal government to finally commit to a nationwide exit from coal. The NRW government’s decision will result in 2.7 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions. A similar move by Brandenburg would mean more than a billion tonnes of additional CO2. “Germany can then withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement,” the WWF adds.

Read the article in German here.

The cost of wind farm construction in the North Sea continues to decline as these farms become connected to the grid, according to the European electricity transmission system operator TenneT. In the tender for a new substation and its 90-kilometre cable connection, costs were reduced by 15 percent to under one billion euros, TenneT said. The substation, which will allow the high-voltage direct current transmission of 900 megawatts of power from several offshore wind farms, is set to begin operation in 2023. TenneT CEO Lex Hartman said the “continuous cost reduction” was due to standardisation, as well as the company’s own expertise, "which is why we expect a continuation of this trend in the future as well".

Read the TenneT press release in German here.

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