18 May 2018, 00:00
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann

Reactions to EU air quality lawsuit / 100% renewables possible - study

Clean Energy Wire

The conservative (CDU/CSU) parliamentary group said the EU Commission should instead support German efforts to improve air quality. “The lawsuit is the exact opposite of that,” transport spokesperson Daniela Ludwig said. “This is beyond my comprehension. The hardware retrofits demanded by the environment ministry are also a dead end, because they are an investment in the past.”
Sustainable transport association VCD said the suit was “an overdue reaction to a scandalously inactive” government. “Chancellor Merkel and her transport ministers are still protecting the deceitful car industry. The suit at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) shows that soft deals with the car industry must end, and that citizens must be better protected.”
NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH), which set the ball rolling by taking local administrations to court over excessive pollution levels, said the suit “clarified that people’s health is more important than increasing diesel companies’ profits.” DUH head Jürgen Resch said the lawsuit was a “slap in the face for car chancellor Angela Merkel.”
In a commentary entitled “Car industry first, citizens second” for newspaper Die Zeit, Alexandra Endres writes that the EU Commission’s decision was welcome and overdue because Merkel had ignored poor air quality and emissions manipulation for years and opposed hardware retrofits, protecting the industry at the expense of citizens.
Michael Bauchmüller writes in an op-ed for Süddeutsche Zeitung “it is as logical as it is embarrassing that the government will be taken to the ECJ for its inaction.”
In Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Martin Gropp says the suit is another step towards diesel driving bans, even though it remains unclear that they would improve air quality, and would lead to increased CO2 emissions by boosting petrol engine sales.

For background, see the factsheet Diesel driving bans in Germany – The Q&A and the article Court ruling opens door for diesel bans in German cities.

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Powering a large country like Germany entirely with renewable energy is possible, and could even be cheaper than conventional energy sources, according to a study by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Technical solutions for all of the well-known problems that come with “a full energy transition” already exist, says co-author and physicist Tom Brown in a KIT press release. Blackouts are not a problem either, Brown says, as renewables could be used to create hydrogen or methane gas reserves stored for emergencies or times of low output from wind and solar power plants.

Find the press release in German here and the study in English here.

See the CLEW factsheets on sector coupling and How can Germany keep the lights on in a renewable energy future? for background. 


The commission tasked with managing Germany’s coal power phase-out has softened its stance on reducing coal emissions, Silke Kersting and Klaus Stratmann write for Handelsblatt Online. An earlier version of the strategy paper said Germany must reduce coal emissions by 60 percent compared to 1990 by 2030 in order to abide by its Climate Action Plan. The latest version says “the entire energy industry” must achieve a 60 percent reduction rather than coal power alone. However, it remains unclear who will be on the commission, the article says.

Read the article in German here (paywall).

Read more on how Germany gears up for official talks on coal phase-out

Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung

The Wadden Sea coastal region in the North Sea must remain off limits for offshore wind power turbines, German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said in an interview with the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. Ahead of a trilateral conference with the Netherlands and Denmark on common management of the protected UNESCO World Heritage site, Schulze said there are enough locations available elsewhere and marine animals should be disturbed as little as possible by the power plants.

Find the interview in German here (paywall).

See the CLEW factsheet Environmental concerns accompany German offshore wind expansion for background.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Diverting part of European gas supply from Russia around Ukraine via the Nord Stream 2 offshore Baltic Sea pipeline would empower Moscow to “attack our common values” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko writes in a guest article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Poroshenko says the planned pipeline would be “a tragic historic mistake” and that Nord Stream 2 is “a purely geopolitical project of the Kremlin that has nothing to do with national or private economic interests”. With Russia still engaged in armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and refusing to budge over the contested Crimea peninsula, a common project the scale of Nord Stream 2 would “appease an aggressor” and dissolve European unity, the Ukrainian president says. 

See the CLEW factsheet Germany’s dependence on imported fossil fuels for more information.


German carmakers Daimler, VW and BMW try to appear environmentally conscious, but in the US they seem determined to sow doubts over climate science, Jan Keuchel writes for Handelsblatt. The companies have all announced ambitious plans to engage in climate action. But an internal document first reported on by the New York Times coming from the US industry organisation Alliance of Automotive Manufacturers, of which the German brands are also members, reveals that carmakers want to foster uncertainty over humans’ role in climate change in a bid to avoid tighter emissions limits, Keuchel writes. The document takes quotes from climate scientists out of context to “give the impression that researchers manipulate their climate models,” he says. The carmakers declined to comment on the reports, Keuchel adds.

Read the article in German here (paywall).

See the CLEW dossier The energy transition and climate change for more information.

For background on German carmakers, see the CLEW factsheets on VW, Daimler and BMW.

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
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