07 Jan 2019, 09:30
Benjamin Wehrmann

Preview2019 - BUND: Germany's energy policy will change substantially

The impending phase-out plan for coal power in Germany will have a profound impact on the country's entire energy policy, says Antje von Broock of environmental organisation Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND). The NGO is a member of the national commission tasked with devising the coal exit. Once an agreement on the fossil energy source's future has been made, this will provide Germany's large utilities and its renewable power sector with much-needed planning security and also cast a light on the government's general policymaking record, von Broock says.

Clean Energy Wire: Which topics or events do you think will dominate Germany’s energy and climate policy in 2019? Do you think the current government will be able to get its own energy and climate agenda done?

Antje von Broock: We expect a result of the negotiations in the so called coal exit commission in early 2019. The commission shall make recommendations on an end date for coal mining as well as for coal-fired power production in Germany, a phase-out plan for coal plants and a structural aid plan for lignite [brown coal] mining regions. Should the commission succeed in delivering an agreement, this will change Germany’s energy policy substantially. Finally, there will be planning security for utilities and industry both in the fossil as well as in the renewable energy sector.

In addition we are expecting results of the transport and the buildings commissions. Based on all these negotiations, the government will draft a climate action law which shall be finalised in late 2019. The achievements - or failures - in climate policy will also be vital for the governmental coalition’s midterm review [slated for autumn 2019]. 

What are your expectations regarding Germany’s planned Climate Action Law? What needs to be included in the law to make sure the country lives up to its promises made in the Paris Agreement’s framework and what are its possible risks and pitfalls?

The Climate Action Law needs to set concrete sectoral climate targets and describe solid pathways for reducing CO2 emissions in the coming years. All ministries must share responsibility for achieving these targets and – in case that the EU targets are not reached – contribute to possible fees according to their respective responsibilities.

Also, the [65 percent-share by 2030] target for renewable energy sources [in power consumption] needs to be increased and ceilings to a rapid development need to be withdrawn, and measures for energy efficiency as well as energy savings need to be better coordinated.

And there must be room for private involvement, as citizens have shaped the energy transition in the past and will be a dynamic component of it also in the future. The more citizens can contribute and benefit, the more the Energiewende will be rooted in and accepted by society.  

What has been your impression of the work done by Germany’s coal exit commission so far? Will it be enough to help Germany regain a leadership role in the international energy transition?

Even though our impression is that not all members do fully recognise the urgency of the climate crisis, everyone appears to be interested in achieving a result supported by all parties. 

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