15 Jan 2018, 00:00
Benjamin Wehrmann

Reactions to climate & energy policy in parties' coalition blueprint

The parties currently in talks to form Germany’s next government have agreed to speed up the roll-out of renewable energies and start the phase-out of coal-fired power generation. Contrary to a draft leaked earlier this week, the blueprint agreement between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democrats (SPD) no longer explicitly postpones Germany's 2020 climate target. This factsheet presents first reactions to the agreement [UPDATES reactions from dena, IG BCE, BSW Solar, VCD, deneff]

Andreas Kuhlmann, head of the German Energy Agency (dena):

Climate protection policy in the coalition deal between Germany’s CDU/CSU and the SPD is “better than many previously thought,” says Andreas Kuhlmann, head of the German Energy Agency. It is now crucial to take the parties by their word and ensure that the 2030 climate goal as well as the ramped up renewables expansion goal are met, he argues. “Annual CO2 emissions from now on have to fall twice as much as they did on average since 1990,” Kuhlmann says.


Michael Vassiliadis, leader of mining trade union IG BCE:

“The coalition deal agreed between the CDU/CSU and the SPD contains substantial improvements for employees and in social justice,” says Michael Vassiliadis, leader of the mining trade union IG BCE. The parties came closer “to the realism in industrial and energy policy that the IG BCE had called for.” However, while the agreement gives reason to believe that the energy transition will be carried with a stronger focus on its social aspects, the document “partly remains inconsistent in this respect,” he says.


Christian Noll, managing director German Industry Initiative for Energy Efficiency (DENEFF):

The blueprint for formal coalition negotiations falls short of identifying sufficient measures that need to be taken for Germany to meet its climate and energy transition goals, the German Industry Initiative for Energy Efficiency says. Managing Director Christian Noll notes that the 28-page paper does not even contain the term “energy efficiency,” adding that greater efficiency is “indispensable for achieving the climate and energy transition goals.” “What we need now are measures such as tax support for efficient retrofitting of buildings, construction standards that are suited for the future, as well as incentives for efficiency in industry.”


Wasilis von Rauch, head of environmental organisation for transport Verkehrsclub Deutschland (VCD):

The outcry by German civil society over the initial plan to postpone the country’s 2020 climate goal seems to have prompted the negotiating parties to rethink their approach and stick to the original targets, says VCD head Wasilis von Rauch. “But if you say A, you’ve got to say B too,” he argues, stressing that concrete action is particularly needed in the transport sector. “This entails the introduction of a general speed limit of 120 kilometres per hour,” which could bring CO2 emissions down by three million tonnes per year. The coalition deal agreed by the parties often appeared to follow a “carry on” approach, and the term “transport transition” is not mentioned, von Rauch says. To prevent driving bans for polluting diesel cars, the parties must make sure that the affected cars are mechanically retrofitted; introduce a blue badge to prevent cars with very high emissions from entering inner cities; and abandon preferential taxation for diesel fuel, von Rauch says.


Carsten Körnig, head of solar industry association BSW Solar:

“We welcome the planned acceleration of renewables expansion,” Carsten Körnig, head of the solar power industry lobby group BSW Solar, says. Additional auctions for 2 gigawatt (GW) of wind and solar capacity in 2019 and 2020, respectively, “are a first step of an approach that needs to be continued and expanded in the following years,” he says. What is lacking in the parties’ agreement, however, is “a clear call for action and commitment to the new energy world and its tremendous opportunities for Germany as an industry location,” Körnig adds. BSW Solar calls for “substantially raising the current solar power expansion corridor of 2.5 GW and scrapping the 52 GW total capacity cap.”


Christoph Bals, Policy Director Germanwatch:

“With this preliminary coalition agreement, there is a chance for Germany to become an energy transition locomotive again. There is a greater likelihood Germany will reach its 2020 climate target compared to a first draft text several days ago. The agreement demonstrates the will to find ways to close at least most of the gap to the 2020 target in time.
But the best news is the clear will to accelerate renewable energy deployment, the agreement to set an end date to coal and the enactment of a binding climate law in order to secure reaching future emissions targets. Development and climate financing will be increased. These are encouraging signals, also to the world. However, a number of important concrete measures are missing, such as a national or regional price on carbon. These can still be introduced into the final coalition agreement in the upcoming weeks or into the new climate law next year.”


Susanne Dröge, Senior Fellow German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) Global Issues Division:

“The document shows the willingness of the coalition partners to follow up on the Paris Agreement climate targets, but it is avoiding the commitment to achieve Germany’s voluntary target for 2020. This is a critical signal and needs to be corrected for.
The good news is that the talks to formulate the coalition treaty will commence soon and a more concrete elaboration on how Germany can meet its climate targets is still possible. The installation of a coal phase-out commission and more ambitious renewable targets is good news, too.”


Patrick Graichen, Director Agora Energiewende:

“We still do not know what to expect in the field of climate and energy. Essentially, the negotiating parties have agreed on a process: By the end of 2018, three commissions for power, heat and transport will propose measures – which are supposed be turned into legally binding plans by the end of 2019.
One thing is clear: if the coalition is 'definitely to reach’ the mitigation target for 2030, we need to halve our coal and oil use compared to today’s levels. Therefore, putting a higher price on carbon is necessary. The generated revenues should be used to reduce electricity bills for households.”


Claudia Kemfert, Economist German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Department Energy, Transportation, Environment:

"The new coalition has confirmed the climate targets for 2020, 2030 and 2050, and wants to increase the growth rates of renewable energy and initiate the coal phase-out. However, the targets and envisaged implementation measures once again seem half-hearted. The planned expansion of renewable energy is positive. Still, concrete measures to close the gap to reach the 2020 target, the introduction of a quota-system for e-mobility and an increased tax on diesel are missing.”


Stefan Kapferer, head of utilities association BDEW:

“The results reached by CDU, CSU and SPD on energy and climate protection are a solid basis for coalition negotiations. It is positive that negotiators clearly commit to 2030 climate targets, and want to develop an action programme containing concrete measures to reach the targets with relevant actors soon. They must not waste time and should establish a strict schedule. Energy companies urgently need clarity and investment security.
The government also has to set the course for improving investment conditions for the construction of  generation capacity with low CO2 emissions, storage and other flexibilities. Otherwise a further reduction of coal power while preserving supply security won’t be possible. Raising the target for the roll-out of renewables is generally positive. But it is important that will be done in a cost-efficient way and synchronised with grid development.
It is regrettable that the central issues of grid extension and modernisation, and support for storage technologies, sector coupling, and combined heat and power are only mentioned in passing. Here negotiators must urgently deliver more. The transition in heating and transport is painfully neglected, even though these areas offer cheap and relatively cost-efficient possibilities to massively save CO2 emissions.
It’s also a grave mistake that negotiators have abandoned suggestions to reform the financing of the energy transition. Especially lowering the power tax would have been an important approach to lower costs for consumers.”   


Dieter Kempf, head of the Federation of German Industries (BDI):

“The agreement is overdue. Germany urgently needs a government that is capable of acting. But it lacks a vision in which direction the future government wants to take the country […] In climate policy, there is reason for hope that technical and economic realities will be taken into account more in the future. A climate protection law must not destroy the flexibility necessary to react to current economic and technological developments.”


Sabine Nallinger, Foundation 2°:

Sabine Nallinger, head of the Foundation 2°, which represents German CEOs in favour of rigorous climate protection, said “the announced burial of the 2020 target is and will continue to be a fatal signal.” The agreement that had been tabled by the negotiating parties was “absolutely unsatisfactory”. The “reluctance and faint-heartedness” of the negotiating conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democrats (SPD) showed “businesses cannot wait for politicians when it comes to making progress in climate protection and strengthening capacities for innovation” in Germany, Nallinger argued.
Germany had to “come as close as possible” to achieving the 2020 climate target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent compared to 1990, Nallinger said. She argued that merely announcing higher expansion goals for renewable energy sources was not enough, “we also need decommissioning goals” for coal plants.


Robert Busch, head of the German Association of Energy Market Innovators (bne):

Robert Busch, head of the German Association of Energy Market Innovators (bne), said the increased renewables share goal of 65 percent by 2030 was “a first but still insufficient step”. The coalition negotiators had failed to spell out clear measures for improving the integration of the power, heating and transport sector. “This includes taxes, levies, and surcharges on energy sources based on their CO2 emissions as well as a national CO2 floor price to correct for lacking signals from the ETS”, Busch said.


Tobias Austrup, Greenpeace:

“It’s encouraging that the Conservatives and the SPD want to stand by international pledges made on climate protection”, environmental organisation Greenpeace’s energy expert Tobias Austrup said. He argued the final coalition treaty had to include a clear roadmap that outlines which coal power plant will be taken off the grid and when.
“Only if the next government quickly retires several of the most polluting coal plants will we meet the 2020 goal”, he said. Austrup added that the negotiating parties’ plans for the transport sector so far “lack any ambition”. The next government had to prepare and end to combustion engines now to ensure that the transport sector would “cease to cause air pollution and start contribute to climate protection.”  


The German Chemicals Industry Association (VCI)

The German Chemicals Industry Association (VCI) said it was regrettable that the agreement “does not include a cost brake for the expansion of renewable energies”. In particular, the industry lobby group added, the paper lacked reform proposals for funding new renewable power installations with funds from the federal budget. VCI head Utz Tillmann said he hoped for “a restart of the Energiewende” in the formal coalition negotiations that “is strongly centred on industrial policy.”


Environmental Action Germany (DUH)

Environmental Action Germany (DUH) said the negotiating parties' stated climate protection goals had become “non-credible” after Conservatives and SPD had initially scrapped the 2020 target. During her election campaign, Chancellor Merkel had promised to achieve a 40 percent greenhouse gas reduction compared to 1990 levels by 2020, but this had now become “a vague ‘as soon as possible’”, DUH head Sascha Müller-Kraenner said. “Who is supposed to believe Merkel if she scraps the 2020 target today and simultaneously announces the next target for 2030, when she will have left her office a long time ago.” However, the DUH said holding additional renewables auctions and the prospect of a Climate Protection Act were “positive” signals.
The DUH also criticised that the grand coalition parties seemed “determined to continue its policy of inaction in air pollution control”, putting the health of many citizens at stake. The organisation said the parties had to ensure that polluting diesel cars are mechanically retrofitted to keep nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels below limit values and prevent looming driving bans in Germany’s inner cities.


Renewable Energy Federation (BEE)

Germany’s Renewable Energy Federation (BEE) said higher renewables expansion goals were “generally welcomed” but had to be specified and legally implemented as quickly as possible once formal coalition negotiations had begun. However, BEE head Peter Röttgen added that effective climate protection also entailed an “accelerated coal exit” and a “noteworthy CO2 pricing” to achieve a market-oriented and cross-sectoral implementation of the energy transition.

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