New climate report puts pressure on coal commission / G20 climate lag
Clean Energy Wire
A new government report detailing Germany’s failure at emissions reductions increases the pressure on the country’s coal commission to agree on a speedy phase-out plan. Germany remains set to widely miss its self-imposed 2020 emission reduction target, according to a draft of the government’s Climate Protection Report, which was leaked to the press and seen by the Clean Energy Wire. Current trends point to an emission cut of only 32 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 – in contrast to the official target of a 40 percent reduction, the report states, echoing earlier ministry estimates. Work in the coal commission enters a critical point for climate protection this week as members focus on a concrete proposal on how to exit the particularly climate-damaging fuel.
For background, read the article Germany on track to widely miss 2020 climate target – government.
Pleas note: The Clean Energy Wire will publish an article on this topic later today.
Clean Energy Wire / Climate Transparency
Power generation from coal, oil and gas, and transport produce the largest share of emissions in the vast majority of G20 countries and none of these economies’ climate pledges are on a 1.5˚C-compatible pathway, according to the Brown to Green Report 2018, compiled by Climate Transparency, an international partnership of climate research organisations and NGOs. The report evaluates the G20 countries’ individual transition to a low-carbon economy, for example regarding emissions reductions, climate policy, finance, and decarbonisation. The G20 are responsible for about 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Germany received a mixed rating. The report criticises recent policy developments, such as projections that Germany will likely miss its 2020 climate target, or the government blocking more ambitious CO₂ limits for cars at the EU level, but positively assesses the launch of Germany’s coal exit commission. While Germany has among the highest building emissions per capita, it counterbalances these with 1.5°C-compatible policies and is thus rated “frontrunner” in this sector. From 30 November to 1 December, Argentina will host this year’s G20 summit.
See the CLEW dossier The energy transition and climate change for background.
Germany and other industrial nations have in the past set ambitious climate targets, but failed to decide and introduce concrete instruments and measures to reach these, writes Klaus Stratmann in an opinion piece for German business daily Handelsblatt. “In Germany, various federal governments have pursued climate protection policies in recent years only on a selective basis at most,” writes Stratmann. Renewables expansion was a focus, while transport and buildings “have come as far away today as if the issue of climate protection did not exist at all.” According to Stratmann, there is no panacea to solve the problems, but at least there are promising solutions. “CO₂ pricing, for example, which also covers sectors that are not subject to [EU] emissions trading, is an interesting approach,” he writes and adds that social disadvantages for the population, as well as competitive disadvantages for industry would have to be compensated.
Find the opinion piece in German here.
For background, read the CLEW article German env minister plans CO₂ price concept to boost climate action, and the factsheet Germany’s Climate Action Plan 2050.
S&P Global Platts
Solid state batteries could be the “holy grail” of EV development and Germany is well placed to pioneer the technology, according to an article by Ben Kilbey for S&P Global Platts. "Germany and Europe are much better positioned with respect to the necessary applied ceramic processing technologies in comparison to the production processes required for conventional EV batteries," said Helmut Ehrenberg, from the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT), one of the lead scientists on Germany’s solid state battery research project. But a detailed Bank of Montreal (BMO) research note says “we are at least 10 years away from perfecting the chemistry and there are also further developmental risks to consider.”
Read the article in English here.
Find background in the dossier Electricity storage is next feat for Germany’s energy transition.
The landmark deal between German utilities E.ON and RWE remains on track for completion next year according to RWE, reports Tobias Buck in the Financial Times. Both groups reported quarterly results that were broadly in line with market expectations and reaffirmed their full year targets. E.ON plans to take over RWE’s innogy, followed by a series of asset swaps that will leave E.ON focused on regulated energy networks and retail customers, and RWE as a leading European energy producer that will own the renewables assets of both E.ON and innogy.
Read the article in English here.
Find background in the article RWE and E.ON overhaul power sector - German reactions to innogy deal and the dossier Battered utilities take on start-ups in innovation race.
German government support for domestic battery cell production is the right step and thankfully, carmaker VW looks set to establish its own gigafactory in cooperation with Korean specialist SK Innovation, writes Stefan Menzel in an editorial in business daily Handelsblatt. “Market leader Volkswagen has a pioneering role for the entire industry, also when it comes to battery cells […] Whoever enters the technology today can determine its future direction,” writes Menzel. He argues competitors BMW and Daimler should also reconsider their refusal to make their own cells, especially with a view to avoiding increasing dependency on Asian suppliers in next generation solid state batteries. “VW takes its own path for now, but it would be the right one for the entire industry,” writes Menzel.
For background, read yesterday’s news item Econ Min Altmaier announces ambitious target for European battery cell production, the article Chinese-German battery cell deal key step for mobility transition and the dossiers Electricity storage is next feat for Germany’s energy transition.
Destatis / Unicredit
The switch to the new car emission test procedure WLTP is one reason why Germany’s economy recorded a slight dip in the third quarter. “The latest weakness can be explained by a curious coincidence of special circumstances. For instance, there were temporary problems in the auto sector caused by a new globally harmonized standard for levels of pollutants and carbon dioxide of passenger cars (WLTP),” said Unicredit's chief German economist Andreas Rees. Germany’s gross domestic product shrank by 0.2 percent in the third quarter compared to the second quarter, its first contraction since 2015.
Read the destatis press release in English here.
Reuters / Forbes
The US has “not deployed the full set of tools yet” to thwart the completion of the natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 that connects Germany with Russia, the US ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, said according to an article by news agency Reuters. New sanctions on companies involved in the project could therefore follow suit, the article says, adding that Sondland said he hoped “organic” opposition within the EU would bring Nord Stream 2 to a halt anyway. “If that philosophy is not adopted and Nord Stream continues, then the president has many, many other tools at his disposal,” Sondland said.
In a different article on Forbes online, Ariel Cohen writes that the new LNG terminal in Germany is a “long overdue” decision needed to complement the controversial pipeline. “Diplomatic considerations aside, it is a logical step for Germany to diversify and expand its natural gas sources,” as the decarbonisation of its economy by 2050 means it has to consider all available options to smoothen the transition. “Despite a concerted push by the Trump administration, there is no guarantee that the new terminal would favour American gas over that of other producers,” Cohen says, arguing that US suppliers would have to compete with several other LNG producing countries and only prevail if they bring down prices, Cohen writes.
See the CLEW factsheets Germany’s dependence on imported fossil fuels and Gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 links Germany to Russia, but splits Europe for background