15 Nov 2017, 00:00
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann

NGOs warn Merkel of "climate policy blackout" / Energiewende popular

DUH / Germanwatch / WWF / Greenpeace & others

Environmental organisations have warned Chancellor Angela Merkel and her negotiating partners at the ongoing Jamaica coalition talks for a new German government of risking a “climate policy blackout”. Merkel had to make “a clear commitment” to the transformation of the transport, energy, and agriculture sectors, given that government representatives from all around the world are in Germany to attend the UN’s COP23 climate conference “This includes a socially just coal exit,” the NGOs say, arguing that Germany had to reduce coal power capacity by 20 gigawatts (GW) by 2020. Christoph Bals of Germanwatch said some of the Jamaica coalition parties currently risked gambling away  the country’s “excellent” international reputation for climate protection ”by ignoring or playing down facts”.

Read the press release in German here.

See the CLEW article Merkel faces critical reception at COP23 and CLEW’s Coalition Watch for background.

Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies

A vast majority of Germans broadly support the Energiewende’s aim to decarbonise the economy but a large proportion also says that the associated burden is not shared equally, the Social Sustainability Barometer study by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) has found. Nearly 90 percent endorse the energy transition, but almost two thirds say costs are not fairly allocated between average wage earners, businesses, and wealthy people. A clear majority of 75 percent say they want to actively take part in making the energy transition happen. Renewables expansion, energy conservation, and greater energy efficiency all enjoy support by at least 80 percent of those surveyed.

Read the full press release in English here.

Find more information on the IASS study and other research on the Energiewende’s Acceptance in the updated CLEW factsheet Polls reveal citizens' support for Energiewende.

Yale Environment 360

Germany’s green self-image does not square with its longstanding love affair with fast, gas-guzzling cars, writes Christian Schwägerl in an article on Yale Environment 360. An increasing number of experts realise the solution to greening the transport sector must go beyond replacing combustion engines with electric ones. It involves “creating a new transport system that connects bicycles, buses, trains, and shared cars, all controlled by digital platforms that allow users to move from A to B in the fastest and cheapest way – but without their own car.”

Read the article in English here.

Find plenty of background in the CLEW dossiers BMW, Daimler, and VW vow to fight in green transport revolution and Car giant Germany struggles to ignite Energiewende in transportation.

Federal Environment Agency

Germany can still reach its 2020 emissions reduction targets if it shuts down or throttles coal plants with a capacity of at least 5 gigawatt (GW), the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) says in a press release. The UBA says that “in the short run”, coal plants that are at least 20 years old should be given an annual power production budget, whereas the oldest and least efficient plants should be closed altogether. The 5GW in capacity reduction should be added to existing reduction plans to ensure that Germany choses an “economic” and “quick” way for achieving a “meaningful” emissions reduction by 2020.
The UBA’s proposition corresponds with an offer by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the pro-business FDP to the Green Party in a row over Germany’s future use of coal. In Germany’s ongoing Jamaica coalition talks for forming a possible new government, the Greens’ aspiring partners said a coal capacity reduction of 5GW - corresponding roughly to ten coal plants - was enough to make progress on national climate targets. The Greens, on the other hand, say capacity should be reduced by 8GW to 10GW. The party called for the closure of Germany’s 20 dirtiest coal plants in its election campaign

Read the press release in German here.

See the CLEW article Germany’s aspiring coalition parties disagree over coal exit speed and the CLEW factsheet Coal in Germany.

Leopoldina / Acatech / Union

Germany will have to invest between 30 billion and 60 billion euros per year over the next three decades if it is to achieve a near-complete decarbonisation of its energy system, technical academies Leopoldina, Acatech and Union say in a joint statement. Costs might be even higher if conditions turn out to be less favourable but could also be lowered by “setting up a smart framework”, the press release says. A uniform CO2 price for all sources of emissions was central to keeping costs at a minimum, says Karen Pittel of the ifo Center for Economic Studies and member of the tech academy alliance ESYS. Germany also had to make greater efforts to push the electrification of the transport and heating sector and ramp up power storage capacities with batteries, hydropower, and power-to-gas technology, the press release says. In addition, the capacity of renewable wind power and solar power plants had to grow by five to seven times by 2050. The tech academies say that Germany will have to rely on “reserve capacities” in order to “safeguard supply in every weather condition and season”, meaning low-emissions gas plants or fuel cells will have to play an important role in the energy system of the future.

Read the press release in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet Germany ponders how to finance renewables expansion in the future for more information.

Sächsische Zeitung

German lignite company LEAG is taking legal action against this year’s EU decision to lower power plant emission limits, a company spokesman told Sächsische Zeitung. LEAG, in cooperation with other companies and mining associations, argues retrofitting the brown coal plants in Boxberg and Jänschwalde to comply with the new EU rules on nitrogen and mercury emissions is too expensive. But LEAG said it did not expect a trial to start before early 2019.

Read the report in German here.

Find background in the updated CLEW factsheet Coal in Germany.

Die Tageszeitung

The pro-business party FDP stands out at the ongoing Jamaica coalition talks for Germany’s next federal government with its “astonishing claims on climate and energy”, Malte Kreutzfeldt writes in left-wing newspaper Die Tageszeitung (taz). Remarks by FDP politicians on the annoyance of Germany’s national commitment to reduce emissions, on its alleged need for power imports if coal plants are shut down although it currently exports power, on the devastating economic effects of trying to still reach the 2020 climate protection targets, or on the power price’s scaring effect for the German industry, all are assertions that can be contested, Kreutzfeldt says. They also illustrate that the pro-business FPD was ready to resort to dubious reasoning when it comes to climate and energy policy, Kreutzfeldt adds.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet German parties’ energy & climate policy positions for background.

Foreign Policy

Germany is an industrial leader with a reputation for being “a righteous leader in climate protection” - but a closer look at its actions suggests it deserves to be labelled a “climate change hypocrite”, Paul Hockenos writes in Foreign Policy. While it may seem that for the past 15 years Germany has expanded  renewable energy production without having to compromise on its economic performance, the country is likely to miss its 2020 emissions reduction target, casting doubt on the benefits of the Energiewende. “Germany’s hypocrisy is ultimately a failure of its political leadership”, Hockenos says, arguing that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s time in office since 2005 has been a “triumph for the fossil fuel lobby”.

Read the article in English here.

See the CLEW article Germany’s energy use and emissions likely to rise yet again in 2017 and the CLEW dossier The energy transition and climate change for more information.


Germany’s 2020 climate protection target is likely to fail due to the country’s “addiction to coal”, according to an analysis by British climate NGO Sandbag. Sandbag argues that Germany’s vast electricity exports allowed for a reduction of its coal capacity of at least 7 gigawatts (GW).

Read the illustrated report in English here.

See the CLEW article Germany’s aspiring coalition parties disagree over coal exit speed and the CLEW factsheet Coal in Germany.

German Renewable Energies Agency (AEE)

The German Renewable Energies Agency has published its “Atlas of the Energiewende” in English. The online digital book illustrates the potential of renewable energies, as well as current challenges such as grid expansion and storage, on more than 100 pages, which include dozens of thematic maps.

Find the Atlas in English and the press release (also in English) here.

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
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