28 Mar 2018, 00:00
Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Ministries wrestle over coal commission / Approval for Nord Stream 2


The German ministries for economic affairs and energy (BMWi) and environment (BMU) compete for taking the lead in the planned commission that is tasked with preparing the country’s coal exit – dubbed "coal commission" –, Reuters news agency reports. Economy and energy minister Peter Altmaier said it “makes sense” for his ministry to head the commission, as this had already been decided in Germany’s Climate Action Plan 2050, the article says. Environment minister Svenja Schulze described Altmaier’s claim as “irritating,” as no decision on the commission’s leadership has yet been made by the new government. The commission is expected to agree on a roadmap for the phase-out of coal-fired power production to help Germany achieve its climate targets, and to draft a follow-up plan for mining regions’ economic future. Schulze argued that it affects both ministries equally. Altmaier said that he wants the commission to start work before the German parliament’s summer break.

Read the article in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier The next German government and the energy transition.

Government of the state of North Rhine Westphalia

Germany’s new economy and energy minister Peter Altmaier said that the country will reach its 2030 climate targets if it starts to work towards them without delay. Addressing a joint press conference with North Rhine-Westphalia’s (NRW) state premier Armin Laschet in Düsseldorf, Altmaier said that the new German government would examine where it stands regarding all its national and European targets, and “see whether or not certain measures are recommendable”. State premier Laschet added that reaching the 2030 goals “is going to be ambitious”. He also recalled the failed coalition talks between the conservative CDU/CSU alliance, the Free Democrats (FDP) and the Green Party, where reaching the country’s 2020 greenhouse gas reduction goal was a focal issue. “The year 2020 – we will work towards it, but it’s not the target date of all efforts, as discussed in the Jamaica talks. So the new coalition has set a different course.” Altmaier said Germany will reduce coal-fired power generation capacities by a certain amount by 2030, but “of course there will still be hard coal and lignite for many years after that.” NRW’s government had approved lignite mining until 2045, added Laschet, and “one could assume that the [coal exit] commission will decide on an earlier date”.

Watch a video of the press conference in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier The next German government and the energy transition and the factsheet Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions and climate targets.

Nord Stream 2 / BSH

With the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH), the last German authority has approved the construction and operation of the contentious Russian-German Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline. The interests of shipping and the maritime environment do not stand in the way of building the 31 km stretch of the pipeline in Germany’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), said the BSH. Nord Stream 2 AG welcomed the approval and said that construction will start as planned in 2018. The Stralsund Mining Authority had previously approved the construction and operation in German territorial waters and the landfall area. Permits by Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Russia are still outstanding, said Nord Stream 2. The pipeline will largely run parallel to the existing Nord Stream pipeline, and is expected to come into service in late 2019.

Find the BSH press release in German here, and the Nord Stream 2 press release in English here.

For background, read the news digest entry Nord Stream 2: green light for 55-kilometre section in German territorial waters and the CLEW factsheet Germany’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.

AFP / Welt Online

Foreign minister Heiko Maas said that Germany would be dedicated to dealing with climate change-related conflict risks should the country be elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for 2019/2020, reports the AFP news agency in an article carried by Welt Online. Germany will “take on a leadership role in the fight against climate change,” and climate action belonged on the UN Security Council’s agenda, said Maas in New York at a meeting with small island state representatives. 

Find the article in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossiersCOP23 climate summit – All eyes on Germany and G20 2017 - Climate and energy at the Hamburg summit.

Zukunft Erdgas

By 28 March Germany had already used up its annual CO₂ budget for 2018, one week earlier than last year, according to the natural gas industry initiative Zukunft Erdgas. “The reason for this is the climate strategy of the government, where the measures take effect only in the distant future. But we must save CO₂ today,” said Timm Kehler, director of Zukunft Erdgas, a lobby group that promotes the use of natural gas instead of other fossil fuels to help protect the climate. In a 2017 study, researchers calculated Germany’s share of global carbon emissions in line with keeping the temperature rise well below two degrees Celsius. Based on this data, Germany is allowed to emit 217 million tonnes of CO₂ in 2018, according to Zukunft Erdgas. If Germany emits about the same total amount this year as in 2017, its budget is now used up, said the initiative.

Find the press release in German here, and a factsheet on the calculations in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article Energy sector drives slight drop in German emissions in 2017 and the CLEW factsheet Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions and climate targets.

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