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02 Jul 2021, 13:13
Edgar Meza

North Rhine-Westphalia sets 2045 climate neutrality goal but dithers on wind power expansion

Die Welt / dpa / Clean Energy Wire

The North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) state parliament has passed a new climate protection law that paves the way for climate neutrality by 2045, five years earlier than initially planned, Die Welt and news agency dpa report. Wind power, however, remains a thorny issue. The parliament of Germany's most populous state passed a new climate protection law on Thursday, backed by the right-of-centre governing coalition between the Christian Democrats (CDU) and liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) led by CDU chancellor candidate Armin Laschet. The government also supported a parliamentary approval for a 1,000-metre minimum distance between wind turbines and residential developments, although exceptions by municipalities remain possible. In a heated debate, the opposition Greens and Social Democrats (SPD) accused the state government of slowing down the expansion of wind power, Die Welt/dpa write. In response, NRW construction minister Ina Scharrenbach (CDU) said the state government was committed to wind expansion in NRW, but that the new rule contributed to legal certainty in the state.

Wind farms close to residential areas remain a contentious issue throughout Germany and legal battles have hampered the necessary rollout of wind power in the country. The new target mirrors the federal government’s own recent decision for the whole of Germany in response to the ruling in April by the Federal Constitutional Court on the country’s climate efforts. Greenhouse gas emissions in NRW are now to be reduced by at least 65 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, with an 88 percent reduction planned by 2040. The SPD and Greens criticized the law as “ambitionless”, noting that there were no concrete savings targets for individual sectors such as transport and industry. In a separate statement, Greenpeace renewable energy expert Jonas Ott also blasted the legislative action: “These laws are worthless,” he said, adding that they in effect further impede climate protection. The 1,000-metre rule for wind turbines makes it impossible for the NRW government to achieve even its 2030 targets and also makes it difficult for Germany to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, Ott argued.

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