Ministry investigates BMW fraud allegations/ New government in spring?
Clean Energy Wire / Tagesspiegel
German authorities will look into accusations by Environmental Action Germany (DUH) that carmaker BMW had used an illegal ‘defeat device’ to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in one of its diesel models. “The Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) was instructed by the transport ministry’s fact-finding committee to look into these accusations immediately after their publication,” the transport ministry told the Clean Energy Wire. According to DUH, the exhaust cleaning mechanism of the car at issue is throttled as soon as the engine exceeds 2,000 revolutions per minute, and is completely switched off beyond 3,500 rpm. DUH said this was illegal because it interfered with normal driving conditions, report Henrik Mortsiefer and Jens Tartler in the Tagesspiegel.
Read the Tagesspiegel article in German here.
BMW plans to increase its plug-in hybrid and battery car sales by 50 percent to about 150,000 in 2018, reports Elisabeth Behrmann for Bloomberg. “We’ll definitely boost sales by a mid-double digit amount,” Klaus Fröhlich, who heads development for BMW, told reporters in Munich. “This is to stay ahead of the competition that’s starting to do its own rollout.”
Read the article in English here.
See the factsheet Early e-car starter BMW plans new mobility sprint, and the dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers for background.
A new government is unlikely to be formed in Germany before spring 2018, Olaf Scholz, deputy leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper. Scholz, who also is mayor of Hamburg, Germany’s second largest city, said that “I don’t expect a federal government, in whatever constellation, to be formed before spring”, adding that Germany nevertheless remained politically stable with its current acting government coalition of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the SPD.
Find the article in German here (behind paywall).
dpa / Hamburger Abendblatt
The problems blocking the formation of a new government in Germany have put the brakes on one of the most ambitious energy transition projects in the country’s north, the news agency dpa reports in an article carried by the Hamburger Abendblatt. The project dubbed NEW 4.0, which is meant to prove that both the city of Hamburg and the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein can cover 100 percent of their energy needs with wind energy and other renewable sources, cannot currently receive any investment in absence of a federal regulatory framework, the article says. “We’ve got no one to contact”, says Jens Kerstan, Hamburg’s senator for the environment. Germany’s federal government provides around 46 million euros for the project, which combines several measures aimed at improving the management of power production and consumption, while another 60 to 80 million euros are contributed by the participating companies, which currently have no legal admission to transfer their money to where it is needed, the article says.
Read the article in German here.
See the CLEW article Government gridlock and the CLEW factsheet The long road to a new government coalition in Germany for background.
Prognos / vbw
The energy transition in Germany does not achieve most of its goals, and its progress has slowed down over the last few years, a study conducted by the consultancy Prognos and commissioned by the Bavarian Industry Association (vbw) has found. Improvements in energy efficiency “clearly fall behind” targets, Prognos says in a press release. The country’s energy-related CO2 emissions have been stagnant since 2014, and have exceeded the target levels for seven years in a row, Prognos says. Meanwhile, Germany’s security of energy supply remains high, the national grid was expanded without additional delays last year, and renewables expansion has been progressing at a far greater pace than previously envisaged, bringing about new challenges for energy infrastructure, the press release says.
In a separate press release, vbw head Alfred Gaffal said that “the Energiewende got stuck”. By 2025, the project’s costs are expected to reach 520 billion euros, and the price of electricity is projected to increase, Gaffal argued. The head of the industry lobby group said that Germany’s failure to meet its emissions reduction targets showed that the country must not tighten its reduction goals, as it had “arbitrarily” done in its Climate Action Plan 2050. Gaffal said that the technological and economic feasibility of the plan’s targets was not properly assessed, and these targets were not aligned with the relevant European standards either. “We need a European energy market with common rules”, Gaffal said, adding that climate policy should not “overburden the economy and the citizens with green dreams”.
Find background in the CLEW article Germany’s energy use and emissions likely to rise yet again in 2017.
German policymakers could agree to a European carbon floor price of 20 euros per tonne, Patrick Pouyanne, CEO of French oil company Total, has said according to Reuters. Back in September, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested a minimum CO2 price of 25 to 30 euros per tonne, but Pouyanne said such an increase would be “too fast and too hard” to accept for some countries in Europe. “At 30 euros, everybody runs away. At 20 euros, there is a chance that the Germans will go along”, Pouyanne said, arguing that Germany was concerned that its coal industry and major industrial companies would object to a greater increase from the current price of 7.5 euros per tonne. A price of 20 euros per tonne was “sufficient” to facilitate the switch from coal to gas-fired power production in Europe, Pouyanne added.
Read the article in English here.
See the CLEW article German carbon tax most efficient way to meet climate goals – study for more information.
Gearing the financial system towards sustainable or ’green‘ investment is increasingly becoming part of Germany’s climate protection policies, but politicians should be wary not to repeat the mistakes made in the country’s energy transition legislation, Hermannus Pfeiffer writes in an opinion piece in Die Welt. Projects like the Green Finance Cluster in Germany’s financial centre Frankfurt am Main show that sustainable banking is beginning to gain a foothold in the country’s financial system, and alongside the institutional investors, such as churches or labour unions, more and more private investors seek to invest their money in so-called green bonds, Pfeiffer says. However, many companies and industry groups that endorse the shift to sustainable investment, such as Deutsche Bank, Siemens, or the industry association VDMA, are primarily interested in maximising their profits this way, he argues. Policymakers should ensure that companies subscribe to green projects not only “if there are lucrative deals and billions in state money” in sight, he says.
Read the article in German here.