Nuclear plant operators in Germany revoked around 20 lawsuits against the state in return for government guarantees of a limited financial liability for the country’s nuclear phase-out, Stefan Schultz writes on Spiegel Online. The utilities E.ON, RWE, EnBW, Vattenfall and others formally informed parliament of their intention to waive compensation claims for hastily having to shut down eight nuclear reactors after the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011, Schultz writes. According to Spiegel, the waived claims amounted to between 600 and 800 million euros. “The companies are being given legal security for the nuclear phase-out act in return,” he writes, adding that the plant operators will make a lump sum payment of 23 billion euros to settle their financial responsibility for managing the disposal of nuclear waste. However, the utilities will not relinquish a compensation claim for limiting the residual service life of their plants, a case in which Germany’s constitutional court last week ruled they were entitled to “adequate” compensation.
Read the article in German here.
Read more on last week’s judgement in the CLEW article Germany's constitutional court backs speedy nuclear exit.
Read more on Germany’s nuclear exit in the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out.
Nuclear plant operators removed the last hurdle to an agreement with the government over who will pay for storage and clean-up of nuclear waste after power plants are shut down in 2020, writes Manfred Schäfers in FAZ.net. Operators agreed to revoke most of their pending lawsuits regarding the nuclear waste cleanup, in exchange for the federal government taking over the building and financing of temporary and final storage facilities. All major political parties in the government and opposition have agreed to the deal, the newspaper writes. The main element of the deal is legal security for all involved, Schäfers says. The plant operators will pay 23.5 billion euros into a public fund for the cleanup.
Read the article in German here.
For background read the CLEW article German utilities buy out of nuclear waste liability for 23.6 bln euros.
German environment minister Barbara Hendricks would consider rewarding owners of cars with combustion engines if they decide to dispense with their vehicles, the minister said in an interview with Welt Online. A so-called scrapping premium would “not come in this election period” but “cannot be ruled out” in the future, Hendricks said. A prerequisite would be to have enough electricity from renewable sources to power a growing fleet of e-cars, she said. Hendricks told Welt Online there had to be various approaches for achieving Germany’s Climate Action Plan goal of substantially reducing the share of combustion engines by 2030. Besides financial measures, this also included upgrading public transportation with better services at cheaper fares, Hendricks said.
Read the interview in German here.
Read more on the future of mobility in Germany in the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector.
Members of the Green group in the German Bundestag
Annual climate protection efforts must be quadrupled compared to the average over the past ten years in order for Germany to reach its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020, according to members of the Green Party parliamentary group. In the paper, “Green emergency programme for climate protection”, the politicians make proposals for all sectors for reducing emissions by more than 120 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents over the coming four years. Proposals include a concept for a faster coal exit, a CO2 floor price, a reform of the vehicle tax system and an efficiency incentives programme for industry.
Find the full paper in German here.
For background, read the CLEW article Ministry projections highlight risk of Germany missing emissions goal.
Agora Energiewende / Klimaretter.info
The EU Commission’s “winter package” on energy policy has been criticised by politicians and environmental organisations, but it does contain “some positive surprises,” writes Verena Kern for klimaretter.info, based on an assessment by think tank Agora Energiewende.* These include a binding goal to improve efficiency by 30 percent by 2030 compared with the business-as-usual scenario, as opposed to the previous non-binding 27 percent target, as well as a 550-gram-per-kilowatt-hour CO2 emission-limit for power plants in capacity markets. “This will lead to a coal exit. Coal-fired power plants aren't capable of fulfilling this limit,” said Patrick Graichen, head of Agora Energiewende.
Find German reactions to the EU energy package in this CLEW article.
*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.
Germany’s G20 presidency is “an important opportunity for other major powers to resist backsliding” on climate change, especially in view of uncertainty over the new US president Donald Trump's energy policy, writes Climate Home. The German government assumed the G20 presidency in December, and will host a summit in July 2017. Chancellor Angela Merkel has identified climate change as a priority objective for the presidency.
Read the article in English here.
For background read the CLEW article IEA director calls on Germany to lead on climate during G20 presidency.
Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture
The agricultural sector is not suitable for full inclusion in the European Union's Emissions Trading System (ETS), experts commissioned by the German Ministry for Food and Agriculture said during a presentation of a ministry report on climate protection in Berlin. Due to the sector's structure comprising many small-scale producers, the time and effort needed for a "reliable" and "sufficiently detailed" emission measurement as required by the ETS would be "unjustifiable" and could weaken the EU's agricultural competitiveness, the report said. The experts instead recommend establishing a Europe-wide harmonised taxation of fossil fuels commensurate with greenhouse gas emissions that "should also include international transportation" of agricultural goods.
Read more on Germany's sectoral targets for emissions reduction in the CLEW factsheet Germany's Climate Action Plan 2050.
According to Thorsten Deppner, an expert on environmental law, the German state would not necessarily have to pay huge sums in compensation for shutting down coal-fired electricity plants, despite a precedent set by a recent constitutional court ruling on compensation for nuclear plant shutdowns. The court decided last week in favour of nuclear plant operators, which had filed compensation claims for limiting the residual service life of their plants. The court judged that they were entitled to an “adequate” compensation.
Read the article in German here.