Merkel opposes ambitious EU car CO2 limits / Diesel plan on 1 October
Clean Energy Wire
Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that Germany should not push for more ambitious EU car fleet emission limits. “I think the [European] Commission’s proposal forms a reasonable basis” for the upcoming negotiations, Merkel said at an event hosted by the industry association BDI. She added that more ambitious targets carried the risk that carmakers move production outside Europe.
The European Commission has proposed to reduce car emissions by 15 percent by 2025 and by 30 percent by 2030, compared to 2021 levels. Germany’s environment ministry has pushed for minus 25 percent by 2025 and minus 50 percent by 2030, but the ministries for economic affairs and transport are both against going that far.
Merkel's view was echoed by economy minister Peter Altmaier who said at the same event that the EU Commission proposal was already ambitious, "I'm not prepared to go beyond it".
Merkel also said that Germany should soon specify its climate targets for the middle of the century. “In the early 2020s, it must be clear where we’re headed,” Merkel said. At present, Germany aims to cut emissions by 80 to 95 percent by 2050. Merkel said the difference between these figures was “enormous.”
Find background in the article Germany launches task force to kickstart shift to sustainable mobility
Clean Energy Wire
As members of the coal exit commission met in the central German mining district of Saxony-Anhalt with local employers, politicians, and NGO representatives, Saxony-Anhalt’s state premier, Reiner Haseloff (CDU), reminded the commission members that they shouldn’t take the second step before the first. “The regions affected by structural change must first be shown realistic prospects for the future. Only then can steps be taken to reduce coal-fired power generation.” Experience with the end of hard coal mining in Germany had shown “that industry and the public sector will have to spend at least 60 billion euros to create jobs and infrastructure measures in the regions affected by the decline in coal-fired power generation”. The next coal exit commission’s meetings will take place in the Lusatia lignite mining region on 11 October, and then in Berlin on 12 October.
Clean Energy Wire
As climate change exacerbates existing conflicts and has a destabilising effect on countries and entire regions, the German government aims to “counter climate risks as part of a preventive and stabilising foreign policy,” said foreign minister Heiko Maas in a statement ahead of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly. “Prevention is key,” said Maas. In 2019 and 2020, Germany will be a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. “It is important to set up a toolbox so that we can react as quickly as possible when we see crises emerging. This requires a better information base and risk analysis, including in the Security Council,” said Maas.
Find the statement in German here.
For background, read the CLEW article Merkel pledges stronger climate action globally and at home and the dossier The Energiewende and its implications for international security.
Germany’s transport minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) has presented his proposal to reduce emissions from diesel cars in German cities to the chancellor and the heads of carmakers BMW, Volkswagen, and Daimler, Daniel Delhaes, Markus Fasse, and Martin Murphy report for the Handelsblatt. Scheuer pushed his idea to exchange old diesel cars for newer ones by keeping the swap cost-neutral for consumers, and only wants to see hardware retrofitting of manipulated diesel engines in newer cars. Carmakers oppose the hardware retrofits as too expensive and don’t want to undertake the updates themselves, but are open to Scheuer’s old-for-new swap idea, the article says. According to the reporters, Scheuer offered that car makers could contribute 80 percent of the retrofitting costs of newer cars, which would leave car owners with having to foot a bill of 600 euros themselves.
The government’s plan on how to lower emissions from diesel cars is due to be presented on 1 October.
Read the article in German here.
Get background on the diesel story in the CLEW factsheet "Dieselgate" - a timeline of Germany's car emissions fraud scandal.
Clean Energy Wire
Germany’s capital Berlin has halved its emissions from power and heat supplied by utility Vattenfall since 1990. Vattenfall thereby reaches its emissions reduction target three years earlier than agreed in the climate action agreement of 2009 with the city-state of Berlin, a Vattenfall press release says. The utility has invested over one billion euros in the modernisation of its 18 combined heat and power plants, which in 2017 emitted 6.3 million tonnes of CO2. Converting plants from using coal to gas or biomass, such as wood chips, and expanding the district heating network are among the measures credited with reducing emissions. By 2030, Vattenfall wants to entirely phase out coal use in its Berlin power stations.
Read the press release in German here.
Clean Energy Wire
Germany’s energy and climate policy lacks decisiveness and a coherent approach, according to representatives of the country’s industries. “Germany must urgently take an integral approach to the climate-friendly modernisation of our economy, instead of exiting single technologies,” said Dieter Kempf, president of the Federation of German Industries (BDI). “Sadly, the gap between desire and reality remains huge in German energy and climate policy,” Kemp said at a BDI event. “We argue about a coal exit in purely national terms, witness a standstill in building renovations, observe a dramatic lag in grid expansion, and experience a continued rise in power prices.” He added that current policies harmed businesses without serving Germany’s ambitious climate targets. "The announcement of new climate targets that are even more ambitious is the wrong answer to obvious practical implementation deficits,” he said.
Find a press release in German here.
The prevailing mood at the WindEnergy Hamburg international trade fair shows how the industry is reinventing itself: the era of subsidies is coming to an end, Kathrin Witsch writes in the Handelsblatt. “We expect that power purchase agreements (PPAs) will be the future,” Commerzbank’s project finance expert Fabian Schlüter told Witsch. The wind power sector is experiencing a revolution, Witsch says. Prices for wind power have fallen since the introduction of a tender system to determine payments which means pressure on turbine manufacturers has increased, Witsch says. PPAs offer an opportunity for these companies as they secure regular payments from large businesses like Amazon or Microsoft, the article says.
Find a CLEW factsheet on wind power in Germany here.
Germany is bound to remain dependent on coal for years to come, up until 2040, although this dependence will gradually decrease, Andreas Pinkwart (FDP), economy minister of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), where one of the remaining lignite mines is located and where protesters are blocking the expansion of RWE’s mining activities in the Hambach Forest, told the General Anzeiger in an interview. It is not possible for Germany to phase out both nuclear and coal power at the same time, Pinkwart said.
Read the interview in German here.