21 Dec 2022, 12:53
Julian Wettengel

Preview 2023: Germany must show efforts to replace Russian gas do not impede emission reduction – researcher

LNG ship Schneeweißchen on sea, chartered by Uniper. Photo: Uniper SE.
Photo: Uniper SE.

Germany’s efforts to replace Russian gas this year are perceived internationally as lacking coherence with its climate ambitions and the government must show that these efforts do not impede the country’s emissions reduction plans, says Marian Feist, researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). One of the key questions of 2023 will be to what extent countries like Germany manage to avoid creating stranded assets and take advantage of the synergies offered by renewables with regard to energy security and emission reduction. Energy security concerns have pushed the topic of adaptation to climate change and the financing for measures in this field to the sidelines in 2022, and a renewed push is needed next year, Feist told Clean Energy Wire.

This interview is part of a series to preview the German and European energy and climate policy in 2023. The other interviews will be published in the coming weeks. 


Clean Energy Wire: Energy and climate policy in 2022 has been dominated by Russia's war on Ukraine and the European energy crisis. What impact do you expect the war to have on the international climate policy stage next year, and which other topics will likely dominate the agenda in 2023?

Marian Feist, SWP

Marian Feist: The U.S.-German gas deal with Egypt and the prospective energy transition partnership with Senegal illustrate how energy and climate policy have become intertwined in new ways. A key question in 2023 will be to what extent countries will manage to avoid creating stranded assets and take advantage of the synergies offered by renewables with regard to energy security and emission reduction. Setting up the new Loss and Damage Fund is another important process to watch next year and beyond. The initial agreement at COP27 was only the first step. The post-agreement phase is when the decisive details will be negotiated. The renewed focus on plurilateral initiatives and partnerships and their effects on the dynamics of the multilateral process – amidst heightened geopolitical tensions – will also be something to look out for.

Chancellor Scholz's traffic light coalition has just finished its first year in office - what do you think the administration got right so far on international climate policy/climate foreign policy and what does it have to deliver on most urgently next year?

The German government has shown awareness of the need for a coherent strategic approach to climate diplomacy, which is being developed, and understands the sensitivities and frustration surrounding the loss and damage talks in the run-up to COP27. Going forward, Germany will have to make good on its assurances regarding its latest fossil fuel ventures. The government has been quick to point out that its efforts to replace Russian gas do not impede its emission reduction ambitions. However, the very fact that this is perceived internationally as lacking coherence is an issue in itself. Germany’s climate diplomacy would do well to not only focus on devising new policy tools, but consider more carefully the challenges of reaching agreement on them with specific partners.

Which international climate topics have been overshadowed by the crisis in 2022 and should receive more attention by the German (and European) government(s) in the new year?

Energy security concerns and priorities in the multilateral process have put mitigation and loss and damage at the centre of attention in 2022. Adaptation, by contrast, has not been receiving the same level of attention lately, even as the impacts of climate change become more severe. Developed countries are late in fulfilling their commitment on 100 billion U.S. dollars annually in climate finance, and finance specifically for adaptation is even more severely lacking.

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