Stuttgart to ban diesel cars when air is bad/ RWE writes down billions
Reuters / State of Baden-Württemberg
Stuttgart is the first German city to introduce a ban on older diesel cars to improve air quality. The home of Mercedes-Benz and Porsche will ban diesel cars which do not meet the latest emissions standards from entering the city on days when pollution is heavy from 2018, reports Reuters. Only around ten percent of diesel cars in Germany conform with the EU’s latest “Euro 6” standard, which means they produce fewer nitrogen oxides and fine particle emissions, which cause respiratory disease.
Stuttgart has particularly serious air pollution problems compared to other German cities because it is in a valley. Authorities were ordered by a court to explain by the end of February their plans to bring air pollution below EU limits. The ban was agreed by the state government of Baden-Württemberg, of which Stuttgart is the capital. Green state premier Winfried Kretschmann said an agreement on diesel bans on the federal level would have been more effective to clear the air.
Find the Reuters report in English here.
Read the state government press release in German here.
For background, read the CLEW dossiers The Energiewende and German carmakers and The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector.
Environmental NGO DUH, which sues many German cities over excessive air pollution levels, calls the measures agreed in Stuttgart a “Mickey Mouse driving ban” because it only affects certain diesel cars on certain days. “We need driving bans for all diesels, on every day,” said DUH managing director Jürgen Resch, according to a Tagesspiegel report. Car industry expert Ferdinand Dudenhöffer said driving bans were indispensable, even though they meant motorists bearing the consequences of years of government inaction. The federal environment ministry welcomed the ban as an interim solution until suitable regulation can be agreed on a federal level, according to the report.
Read the report in German here.
More than half of Germans are in favour of temporary diesel driving bans when air quality is bad, according to Greenpeace. In a survey by pollster Emnid commissioned by the NGO, 61 percent of interviewees answered “yes” to the question: “Do you believe highly polluting diesel vehicles should be banned in districts where air quality is particularly bad?”
Of all places, the region now developing really clean diesel engines publicly withdraws confidence from the technology, comments local newspaper Stuttgarter Nachrichten. Local politicians fighting against combustion technology seem to forget which industry earns the money needed for education and other expenditures. “It’s hard to find another state that damages its own economic basis with such gusto,” according to the commentary.
Stuttgart had run out of options to cut nitrogen dioxide pollution, a poison that makes people ill and even kills them, writes Jan Heidtmann in a commentary for Süddeutsche Zeitung. He argues the state government also wants to put pressure on federal transport minister Alexander Dobrindt, from CDU sister party CSU, who resists federal regulation to introduce driving bans using a “blue badge” to label cleaner cars. Heidtmann argues this is why it’s partly the minister’s fault that nitrogen dioxide levels now exceed legal limits in almost 80 German cities, including Berlin and Munich.
Read the commentary in German here.
Germany’s biggest power producer RWE won’t pay a dividend for a second consecutive year after writing off billions because of sliding electricity prices, report Lars Paulsson and Tino Andresen for Bloomberg. The Essen-based utility booked impairments of 4.3 billion euros attributed to its power plants in Germany, U.K., the Netherlands and Turkey, RWE said in a statement. “The root of the problem for RWE and the rest of Germany’s biggest utilities lies in the nation’s unprecedented shift to renewable energy that created a glut and squeezed earnings from traditional electricity sources from coal to lignite and nuclear,” write the authors.
Read the article in English here.
Germany must draw up a plan to exit from coal-fired power generation next year if it is to fulfill its climate targets, according to Uniper CEO Klaus Schäfer, reports Andreas Lochner for Montel. “From my point of view it is no longer a matter of whether or not to do a coal exit,” Schäfer told a “coal dialogue” organised by the Greens in the German parliament in Berlin.
Read the article in English here.
German Solar Industry Association
With about 100,000 new solar heaters in 2016, a total of 2.2 million solar heating systems are now installed in Germany, the German Solar Industry Association (BSW) and the Association of Heating Industry (BDH) say in a joint press release. “The Energiewende in the boiler rooms continues – but the tempo could be improved,” said Carsten Körnig, managing director of BSW. Low oil and natural gas prices had “kept the pressure to modernise low,” the associations say.
Read the press release in German here.
For more information read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and Efficiency.
dena / Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
German household consumers save 10 percent of heating energy on average, if they receive a one-time energy efficiency counselling and monthly information on consumption, according to results of a pilot project coordinated by German Energy Agency (dena), reports Andreas Mihm for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “Savings are small, though. They were 15 – 21 Euros net per apartment (69 square metres) per year” and depended on what measuring equipment needed to be installed and paid for, writes Mihm.
Germany is ranked 5th on the Worldbank’s Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy (RISE) index that compares states’ policies and regulations in the energy sector. Countries are scored using 27 indicators in the three pillars energy access, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. “RISE provides a reference point to help policymakers benchmark their sector policy and regulatory framework against those of regional and global peers, and a powerful tool to help develop policies and regulations that advance sustainable energy goals,” says the website. Denmark is in first place, followed by Canada, the United States and the Netherlands.
Find the score results and more information in English here.
Lichtblick / Greenpeace Energy / others
It is important to see from which sources the electricity from household electricity providers originate, say 62 percent of respondents in a survey by YouGov. Green power companies Lichtblick, Greenpeace Energy and others commissioned the survey and demand a reform of power labelling to better reflect the actual sources of the electricity, the companies write in a press release. “Consumers are misled. The whole sector should promote a transparent power labelling and end the fraudulent labelling,” said Gero Lücking, director at Lichtblick.