12 Jun 2017, 00:00
Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Setbacks for Merkel's G20 plans / Germany-California climate pact

Der Spiegel

Japan and Great Britain did not sign a joint statement with France, Germany and Italy in reaction to the US decision to leave the Paris Agreement, and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proposed to strike the references to the Paris Agreement from the upcoming G20 communiqué in a telephone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week, reports Der Spiegel. “This shows that Germany’s options in international politics remain limited,” writes Der Spiegel. Merkel had hoped to use Germany's G20 presidency to achieve further progress curbing climate change. It remains unclear whether all other G20 members will sign the G20 Action Plan on Climate and Energy for Growth (as reported by Clean Energy Wire), initiated by the German G20 presidency, writes Der Spiegel.

Find an English version of the article here and a Reuters article on the issue in English here.

For background, read the CLEW articles German reactions to US decision to withdraw from Paris Agreement and Germany, China urge US to remain in climate agreement.


The US will join the G7 in the communiqué of environment ministers meeting in Bologna, but it will acknowledge points of disagreement, a German official told reporters attending the meeting, according to a Bloomberg article by Chiara Albanese and Brian Parkin. German environment minister Barbara Hendricks said that G7 states “including the US” agreed on reducing CO₂ emissions, but she also said that Scott Pruitt, head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, had said there were differences on climate protection. “I don’t see how the U.S. will handle this when on the one hand it says yes, it will indeed reduce emissions, yet on the other hand it won’t apply the instruments that have been created for this purpose,” Hendricks said. The communiqué is expected on Monday.

Read the article in English here.

For background, read the CLEW articles German reactions to US decision to withdraw from Paris Agreement and Germany, China urge US to remain in climate agreement.

BMUB / Governor of California

Germany and the US state of California are teaming up to tackle climate change, after US President Donald Trump announced that the US would leave the Paris Climate Agreement. California’s Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks signed a joint statement after a meeting in San Francisco, stating, "The withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement underscores the important role that non-state actors, and particularly subnational actors, play in achieving the overall objective and goals of that Agreement."  
Already in 2015, California and the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, together with other states had formed the Under2 Coalition - an international pact among cities, states and countries to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius.

Read the BMUB press release in German here and the California governor’s in English here and find the joint statement in English here.

For background, read the CLEW articles German reactions to US decision to withdraw from Paris Agreement and Germany, China urge US to remain in climate agreement.

Welt am Sonntag

The German Federal Constitutional Court's decision to declare the country’s nuclear fuel tax law invalid has outraged many Green politicians, but could turn out to be beneficial for some of their fellow party members, Daniel Wetzel writes in the weekly newspaper Welt am Sonntag. Following the ruling, the government will have to refund about seven billion euros to the nuclear companies, leading the Green party’s nuclear policy spokesperson Sylvia Kotting-Uhl to conclude that the utilities would have to be charged in some other way, Wetzel writes. But influential Green and Baden-Wuerttemberg state premier Winfried Kretschmann might object to that, Wetzel argues. His state holds 50 percent of utility EnBW, which likely will bring several hundreds of millions of euros into the state’s treasury after the ruling.

For background, see the CLEW factsheet Securing utility payment for the nuclear clean-up.

Zeit Online

Germany’s across-the-board taxes, levies and surcharges on power consumption limit flexibility and innovation in the energy sector, Fabian Reetz writes on Zeit Online. More than 80 percent of the German power price is made up of such fees imposed by the state in a per-kilowatt-hour lump sum, Reetz says. It therefore cannot be in the state’s interest to enforce its professed energy policy principle “efficiency first,” because this would “lead to the collapse of our electricity system’s funding,” he argues. At the same time, the power price for households does not fall when greater consumption is needed to relieve the grid, Reetz says. Available technology could allow for a far more flexible and efficient energy use, “but the potential for the Energiewende can only be exploited if the state backs off a bit.”

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet What German households pay for power for background. 

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The former border between West and East Germany could become a problem for the country’s much-needed power transmission highways SuedLink and SuedOstLink, Andreas Mihm writes in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The government of the eastern German state of Thuringia is planning a law to protect the inner-German border strip of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) as a “national nature monument” and prohibit the construction of power lines in the area, Mihm says. Germany’s economy minister Brigitte Zypries told Thuringia’s government, which is led by the Left Party, she was “surprised” by the decision that puts the Energiewende’s success in jeopardy, he writes.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s power grid for more information.


The recent boost in value of utility RWE’s shares comes as a blessing for many cities and municipalities in RWE’s home state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Jürgen Flauger writes in the Handelsblatt. The increase in value of almost 70 percent since the beginning of the year is a financial relief for the public shareholders, which currently own about a quarter of the company. RWE incurred heavy losses due to changes in Germany’s energy system related to the Energiewende, Flauger says. But the rising share price could also tempt municipalities “to use the high prices for selling their shares,” he argues.

Read the article (behind paywall) in German here.

For background read the CLEW dossier Utilities and the energy transition.


The Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW) proposes replacing Germany’s renewables levy (EEG-surcharge), paid by power consumers with their electricity bill, with a surcharge on income and corporate taxes. IW today published a paper that Handelsblatt had reported on last week.

Find the paper in German here.

For background read the CLEW factsheet Germany ponders how to finance renewables expansion in the future.

Clean Technica

German car industry hotspot Stuttgart plows a path forward to an electrified future powered by renewable wind and solar energy, writes Kyle Field in an article for Clean Technica. He explores Stuttgart’s “clash between the old world and industries that humans have developed over the centuries and the new realities resulting from the very same industries that have elevated humanity: air pollution, hazardous waste, and soot-covered buildings.”

Read the article in English here.

For background read the CLEW dossiers Cities, municipalities, and the Energiewende and The Energiewende and German carmakers.


Contrary to “expectations by many,” there is still no deterioration of the financing situation for municipal utilities, according to a study by consultancy PwC. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) on average increased 6.9 percent from 2014 to 2015. PwC analyses the financial situation of 300 municipal utilities for the years 2009 – 2015.

Find the study in German here.

For background read the CLEW dossier Utilities and the energy transition and the CLEW factsheet Small, but powerful – Germany’s municipal utilities.

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