Merkel re-elected as chancellor / World's first long-haul e-bus route
Clean Energy Wire
The German federal parliament, the Bundestag, has elected Chancellor Angela Merkel to a fourth term in office. Merkel, who will head a renewed grand coalition between her conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democratic Party (SPD), was elected with 364 to 315 votes (9 abstentions). Her parliamentary alliance has a majority of 399. Merkel has been nicknamed the "Climate Chancellor" for her engagement in international efforts to cut emissions. But many say she no longer lives up to the name. Her new government has dropped Germany's 2020 climate targets, and the country has made little progress on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Her new cabinet will include Peter Altmaier (CDU) as economy and energy minister, Svenja Schulze (SPD) as environment minister and Andreas Scheuer (CSU) as transport minister.
For background, read the CLEW factsheet The story of "Climate Chancellor" Angela Merkel and the dossier on The next German government and the energy transition.
McKinsey & Company / World Economic Forum
High power prices, a heavy dependency on coal power and stagnating greenhouse gas emissions mean Germany is no longer playing a leading role in the international energy transition, according to McKinsey’s new global Energy Transition Index, done in cooperation with the World Economic Forum. Germany ranks 16th of 114 countries, falling behind many European countries, McKinsey says. The index compares the status of the energy transition in 114 countries based on 40 different indices, including "energy system structure", where Germany ranks 110th due to its high dependence on electricity generated from coal.
For background, read CLEW’s Easy Guide on Germany’s energy transition, and the factsheet Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions and climate targets.
Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv)
The Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv) has called on the new German government to "reboot" financing of the energy transition. The costs of building up renewable capacity and updating the grid must be more fairly distributed, the vzbv says in a press release. Exemptions from the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) surcharge for energy-intensive industries should be paid via tax revenues rather than passed on to other consumers, and power tax and grid fee exemptions for companies should be abolished, the consumer organisation says. The vzbv sets out these and other demands - such as better prosumer rights and measures to promote sector coupling - in a position paper.
For background read the CLEW factsheet Germany ponders how to finance renewables expansion in the future.
A study by the Öko-Institut for the Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI) and Germanwatch says Germany has little chance of generating electricity close enough to consumers to make planned grid expansion unnecessary. In a meta-study comparing the conclusions of 10 studies on grids and decentralisation, the Öko-Institut found that to reduce the need for new power lines, a massive increase in onshore wind power generation would be required in the south and west of the country, which it says is unrealistic due to public resistance to wind farms near residential and protected areas. “We’re seeing in the studies that expanding renewables considerably in the south and west could maybe reduce grid expansion up to 2030, but if we’re looking at a world with 85 percent renewables after 2030, we would need the power lines anyway,” the study’s author, Felix Matthes, said.
Read the study in German and a summary in English here.
Incoming environment minister Svenja Schulze will keep Jochen Flasbarth on as state secretary, Flasbarth confirmed to the tageszeitung (taz). The 55-year old Social Democrat is “central to German environment policy”, well-connected in the EU and UN, and has been on the country’s negotiating team in international climate talks including the 2015 Paris Agreement negotiations, Bernhard Pötter writes in an article for taz. Before his time as state secretary, Flasbarth held positions including head of the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), and head of the environmental group Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU).
Read the article in German here.
For background, read the CLEW interview with the state secretary COP23- 'Bonn talks will be about the heart of the Paris Agreement'.
The European Commission will decide whether to sue Germany for failing to comply with EU air quality standards some time in the coming weeks, news agency dpa reports in an article carried by Handelsblatt. The Commission initially said it would decide by mid-March, but the next announcements on legal action against member states are not expected until the end of April, dpa reports.
Find the article in German here.
Find background in the CLEW factsheet Diesel driving bans in Germany – The Q&A and the article Court ruling opens door for diesel bans in German cities.
Europe’s largest coach service, Flixbus, will use fully electric buses on the 150-kilometre route between Paris and Amiens, the company said in a press release. Flixbus says this will be the world’s first trial of e-buses on a long-haul route. “At the moment, the purchase of e-buses is significantly more expensive, but we are convinced this investment will pay off in the future,” Flixbus founder André Schwämmlein said. The first German route will be trialled from this summer.
Find the press release in German here.
For background, read the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector.