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05 Nov 2021, 13:39
Julian Wettengel

Role of gas key issue as Germany hesitates signing COP26 pledge to end foreign fossil fuel funding

Clean Energy Wire

The role of gas has emerged as a key issue that keeps the German government from signing on to a COP26 pledge to end foreign fossil fuel funding by 2022. The pledge's text lacks a clear definition of the permitted exceptions, said Jochen Flasbarth, state secretary in the environment ministry at a press briefing in Glasgow. “We are currently still coordinating this within the government, because there are a few questions that need to be clarified seriously.” The pledge commits signatories to end new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022, “except in limited and clearly defined circumstances that are consistent with a 1.5°C warming limit and the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

“This is basically CCS/CCU [carbon capture and storage or utilisation],” said Flasbarth, “but it can also mean H2-ready gas infrastructure, but this is not clearly stated.” In addition, the state-owned development bank KfW had several funding projects in the pipeline to improve energy efficiency of existing natural gas infrastructure, he said. “From our point of view, this should not be made impossible, because we would lose important contributions to emissions reduction.” Germany would have a basis to sign the pledge once a common understanding was reached in line with what the government deems necessary for climate action. “If that is not possible at this stage, then we have to postpone it from the German side.” Germany is also in talks with other countries like France and the Netherlands who have not yet signed on to the pledge, said Flasbarth.

Several fossil fuel phase-out pledges at the UN climate change conference COP26 in Glasgow have put a spotlight on Germany’s domestic policy on oil, fossil gas and coal. The parties involved in negotiations to form Germany's next government coalition (SPD, Greens, FDP) have said natural gas will play an important role as a transitional fuel.

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