29 Apr 2021, 12:30
Sven Egenter Freja Eriksen Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Tracking progress of Germany's 2030 climate action package

Germany's government parties present the Climate Action Programme 2030 in Berlin. Photo: Bundesregierung / Bergmann
Germany's government parties present the Climate Action Programme 2030 in Berlin. Photo: Bundesregierung / Bergmann

With its Climate Action Law and the Climate Action Programme 2030, Germany's government coalition has presented a far-reaching climate strategy that is aimed at putting the country on track towards reaching its climate targets. The policy package contains crucial measures such as introducing a price on carbon emissions in the transport and buildings sector but from the onset has also been criticised for lacking ambition and being insufficient to meet climate targets. Follow the debate as well as politicial and legislative progress made regarding the climate package in this regularly updated news overview. [UPDATES to 29 April 2021]

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For a deep dive into the climate package's origin and the debate around carbon pricing in Germany, take a look at the CLEW dossier Climate cabinet to put Germany back on track for 2030 targets.

29 April 2021

In a landmark ruling on 29 April 2021, Germany's highest court ruled that the government's climate action legislation is insufficient because they lack emission reduction targets beyond 2030. "The challenged provisions do violate the freedoms of the complainants, some of whom are still very young," the court said in a statement with reference to climate activists who had filed the complaint. "The provisions irreversibly offload major emission reduction burdens onto periods after 2030."

13 March 2020

  • Germany's council of state governments, the Bundesrat, has said the sooner the end of hard coal in the country comes, the better. The state council said if the schedule for plant decommissioning is not met through auctions by 2024, capacity will be taken offline by regulatory law and that there should be no compensation payments for hard coal plant operators by 2027The Bundesrat also said that emissions certificates in the European emissions trading system (ETS) freed by plant closures in Germany should immediately be cancelled to "achieve a positive Europe-wide effect." At the same time, the council advocated expanding support payments for enabling former coal workers to find new employment to white collar workers in the industry, and called on the government to clearly define at what point power customers can expect to receive price relief, if the power price rises due to the coal phase-out. The Bundesrat's decision will be transferred to the government, which is going to produce a reply that will be debated by the country's parliament.

17 February 2020

  • Four regional states in Western Germany demand changes to the coal exit law, arguing it would disadvantage hard coal plants versus lignite plants, reports Rheinische Post. In a letter to economy minister Peter Altmaier, the states say hard coal plants must not be decommissioned from 2027 on by force without compensation payments as currently planned. They also said possible compensation payments up to that point were too low, according to the report.

7 February 2020

  • German ministries are in dispute over economy minister Peter Altmaier’s draft German hydrogen strategy, reports Der Spiegel. Environment minister Svenja Schulze criticised the fact that renewables-based hydrogen, a scarce resource, should only be used where there are no alternatives, and not for passenger cars, for instance. Education and research minister Anja Karliczek aims to strengthen the planned national hydrogen council to include an “innovation coordinator” with their own right of initiative.
  • Following a proposal by government coalition party SPD that also received backing by chancellor Angela Merkel, the Green Party is now also calling for a levy that wind power operators should pay to nearby local communities, allowing them to share in revenues and thus increase acceptance for renewables expansion, reports Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The Greens propose 10,000 euros annually per new facility to be paid until it is decommissioned.

5 February 2020

  • German Trade Union Association DGB has criticised the government for its insufficient actions to push renewables expansion in a letter to the chancellery and several ministers, reports Handelsblatt Online. Among other things, the DGB and its member unions are calling on politicians to simplify planning regulations for the construction of new wind or solar power plants, raise the expansion corridors provided for in the renewables law, abolish the solar expansion cap and dispense with distance regulations for new wind turbines.
  • A meeting between economy minister Peter Altmaier and associations and unions with a stake in hard coal power production – such as BDEW, VKU, BDI, IG BCE – yielded no results, reports public broadcaster ZDF. Ahead of what the ministry called a “constructive exchange”, hard coal operators and some politicians had come out against closures without compensation.

3 February 2020

  • Economy minister Peter Altmaier plans to meet with hard coal power plant operators on 4 February to smooth tensions arising from the coal exit path proposed by the government, reports news agency dpa. Local utilities have criticised the fact that hard coal is set to come offline sooner than lignite, and with less compensation planned.

30 January 2020

29 January 2020

  • German govt adopts coal exit, fixes hard coal compensation - Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet adopted a law detailing plant shutdowns and compensation payments for coal companies, confirming a commission proposal made last year to end coal no later than 2038. The government says the new law, which still has to be adopted by parliament, ensures massive cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and will cushion the disruptive effects on coal regions. But critics say the law violates the commission compromise, whereas others say it makes ending coal unnecessarily expensive, and warn the country must avoid distorting prices in the European emissions trading system (ETS), which might shift emissions saved in Germany to other EU countries.

27 January 2020

  • German industry and workers union associations BDI, DIHK, DGB, VDMA and more have written a joint letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel, calling for a binding provision in the planned coal exit law that would guarantee compensation for rising electricity prices resulting from the coal exit. They also criticized the fact that the time allowed to associations to comment on the existing draft (23 hours) was too short. “The suspicion arises that there is no real interest in [the associations’] input,” they wrote.
  • About 500 people protested on 24 January against bringing the new hard coal plant Datteln 4 online, including the Fridays for Future student movement and members of Extinction Rebellion, environmental NGOs and political parties, reports tageszeitung (taz). This could make Datteln the new Hambach Forest – a location and symbol of climate protests – writes taz.

24 January 2020

  • The German economy ministry and state-owned development bank KfW have increased funding for energy efficient construction and renovation as decided in the government's climate package. Private citizens, companies and municipalities all stand to benefit from the changes, which include increases in investment and repayment subsidies between ten and 15 percent for the purchase or renovation of a house that fulfills KfW efficiency standards. "This is a strong signal for more climate action in the building sector - and good news for all homeowners," said economy minister Peter Altmaier.
  • Compensation payments to German lignite power plant operators may be seen as a market distortion by the European Commission, competition law partner at Dentons law firm Matthias Nordmann told the WitschaftsWoche. In a similar case in 2016 concerning compensation payments to energy companies Vattenfall, RWE and Mibrag for the shutdown of certain lignite-fired power plant units, the Commission decided that the payments effectively constituted financial aid. The Commission did, however, not view the payments as unduly distorting the market, partly because the units closed only accounted for 2.5 percent of Germany's energy supply. Nordmann said it would very well be possible that the European Commission would view the compensation payments agreed on in Germany's coal phase-out plan as distorting the market.

22 January 2020

  • Germany’s hard coal power plant operators criticise the government’s phase-out plans, as the relatively late shutdown dates for lignite facilities likely mean earlier closures for hard coal, reports Daniel Wetzel in Die Welt. Local utility association VKU – whose members operate many of Germany’s hard coal units – says the lignite deal, which also includes billions in compensation for operators, comes at the expense of hard coal, writes Wetzel.

  • Former members of Germany's coal exit commission accuse the government of "clearly and single-handedly" revoking the compromise that was found last year on ending the fossil fuel's use in the country through the agreement on a concrete phase-out roadmap. Former commission co-leader Barbara Praetorius, climate researcher Hans Joachim Schellnhuber and representatives of all environmental NGOs involved in the commission sent a letter to chancellor Angela Merkel saying the compromise that had so far enjoyed their backing would be void if no changes are made to the phase-out schedule. Their main point of critique is that there will be no continuous and linear shutdown of lignite plants. Most capacity to be taken off the grid in the 2020s will only be shut down in 2028-2029.

17 January 2020

  • German media commentators have mixed views on the coal exit path fixed by the federal government, mining states and utilities. While some call it a “historic” deal that could make Germany a global role model, others say it turned out to be much more expensive than necessary.
  • The German government, its coal mining states and several major utilities have agreed on a roadmap for shutting down the country's lignite-fired power plants and on compensation payments for operators. Many analysts and environmental activists immediately dismissed the phase-out schedule, arguing that the pace was too slow to comply with Germany's emissions reduction obligations. The decision makes Germany the first country in the world with a plan to end both nuclear and coal-fired power production.

16 January 2020

  • Germany's climate package will create more jobs than a business-as-usual scenario while it is overall expected to have a slightly negative effect on economic growth, shows an analysis by the Institute for Employment Research (IAB). The analysis foresees a loss of around four billion euros in Germany's gross domestic product (GDP) by 2032, a drop that the institute calls "very insignificant" compared to Germany's overall GDP.

9 January 2020

  • The German government's climate package's total volume has increased from about 54 billion euros to 62 billion euros due to legislative changes, writes Brigitte Knopf, secretary general of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), in a blog post.

  • The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that a meeting between coal operators and the government on 14 January could lead to an agreement about compensation for plant shutdowns and their schedule. The newspaper names 22 January as the likely date for a cabinet decision on the coal exit law.

  • Tagesspiegel Background’s Nora Marie Zaremba reports that Chancellor Angela Merkel had increased pressure on economy minister Peter Altmaier in a December meeting with energy stakeholders to find a solution on lignite plant shutdowns.
  • In a guest commentary in Frankfurter Rundschau, climate activists Luisa Neubauer and Kathrin Henneberger criticise plans to bring the new Datteln 4 hard coal plant online the very same year the German legislature is set to decide the coal exit law. “This is real-life satire that we can't afford,” they write.
  • Rheinische Post reports that the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia welcomes plans to bring Datteln 4 online. “Datteln is the most modern coal-fired power plant in Europe,” said state economy minister Andreas Pinkwart. “If, in return, older plants are taken off the grid earlier or converted to gas, this may not be the right way for some people ideologically. But from a climate policy point of view it would be wise.” Environmental NGO Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) criticised the plans. Combined, the plants offered for shutdown by Uniper would not have the output of Datteln 4 due to the low utilisation rate in 2019, and some blocks were to be converted to gas only. "This would be the opposite of an energy transition," said the NGO.
  • A group of associations including the German Solar Association (BSW) and the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv) have written a joint letter to German MPs to call for an immediate abolishment of the 52 gigawatt cap for solar power support under the Renewable Energy Act (EEG). “There is now an acute need for action due to the fact that the photovoltaic support limit anchored in the EEG will already be reached in April 2020 because of anticipatory effects,” they write.

8 January 2020

  • Energy company Uniper may offer to either shut down all its coal plants or switch them to gas and, in turn, bring the new Datteln 4 hard coal unit online, sources told Rheinische Post. A Uniper spokesperson said: “We will only be able to comment once the situation has been clarified, particularly in the form of a law.” The company had always made clear it wanted to “constructively contribute to the coal exit”, and that lowering CO₂ emissions was best done with modern technology.
  • The government cabinet could adopt a coal exit law as early as next week, reports news agency Reuters. An internal schedule – seen by Clean Energy Wire – schedules the adoption for 15 January. The economy ministry did not confirm the date, but told Reuters it aims for cabinet adoption “as fast as possible”. It is possible the law will only deal with hard coal initially. Lignite could be added later due to the talks about compensation payments for plant and mine operators for early shutdowns, writes Reuters. Sources told Rheinische Post that a new meeting with operators is scheduled for 14 January, and that the coal exit law cabinet decision might not take place before 22 January.

7 January 2020

  • Nothing new on coal exit law – In a regular government press conference, an economy spokesperson said she cannot report any news on the status of the coal exit law. “The law is still in inter-ministerial coordination. On the one hand, it is a question of phasing out coal, but also of accompanying regulations, and that is a complex project overall. We have the ambition to put all this into a law, and that is why we are taking the time we need to do it properly in exchange with the ministries,” she said.
  • A handful of MPs from the conservative CDU/CSU alliance have formed a “Liberal-Conservative Circle” together with colleagues from the business-friendly Free Democrats to draft new positions on energy and climate policy and present an alternative to a possible future coalition of conservatives and Greens, reports Nora Marie Zaremba in Tagesspiegel Background. A key focus is the rejection of the compromise agreed by the coal exit commission in early 2019, as the group says “we believe it would be wrong to phase out base-load coal-fired and nuclear power plants at the same time.” The parliamentarians also doubt whether the government’s climate package decisions make economic sense. The new group is small and until now lacks any front-row MPs, writes Zaremba.


20 December 2019

  • Following the Bundestag, the council of state governments has also approved the mediation committee’s agreement on the climate package’s tax elements and increase of the CO₂ price for transport and buildings. This means the climate tax law can enter into force on 1 January 2020. VAT on train tickets will decrease to 7 percent.

19 December 2019

  • The national parliament, or Bundestag, has voted in favour of the mediation committee agreement on the climate package’s tax elements and increase of the CO₂ price for transport and buildings. 426 MPs voted in favour, 221 against, with one abstention.

18 December 2019

  • Chancellor Angela Merkel said during question time in the Bundestag that issues surrounding wind power expansion would be dealt with by March 2020. With state leaders she “agreed that by March we would deal with all the issues - permits, identified areas, distance regulations, also the tender modalities, etc. We then need to find a way of obtaining permits more quickly and thus also improving the tendering process. We cannot be satisfied with the situation at the moment.”

  • Mediation committee greenlights higher CO2 price – Members of the German parliament (Bundestag) and the federal council of states (the Bundesrat) have agreed to increase the starting price on CO2 to 25 euros per tonne from 2021 in the building and transport sectors. The mediation committee also cleared planned reductions in the value-added tax for train tickets, tax incentives for energy-efficient buildings and a slight raise of the commuters' allowance. These measures could now be adopted by the Bundestag and Bundesrat later this week while the CO2 price compromise must undergo a new legislative process (amendment to existing emissions trading system law) in spring 2020. 

16 December 2019

  • Cabinet will not decide coal exit law in 2019 – The German cabinet has delayed the planned coal exit bill until early 2020 due to the complexity and continued coordination among ministries regarding individual provisions, said an economy ministry spokesperson. “We must now take this time to ensure that the individual regulations in the law - which is an omnibus law - all fit together in the end. Against this background, we intend to adopt the draft coal phase-out law only at the beginning of next year,” the spokesperson said. The talks with lignite operators about possible compensation for plant shutdowns are ongoing, he added.
  • German lawmakers agree to raise planned CO₂ price for buildings, transport - German lawmakers have reached a preliminary agreement to raise the planned CO₂ price for the buildings and transport sectors. The starting price of the mechanism contained in the country's so-called climate package is to be increased from 10 to 25 euros for the year 2021 and will gradually climb to 55 euros in 2025. Additional revenues will be used to lower the power price, a document on the agreement said. Energy industry, researchers and NGOs who had criticised previous plans as not ambitious enough welcomed the new deal, whereas chemical industry association VCI warned it could threaten the competitiveness of German companies.

12 December 2019

10 December 2019

  • After its first round of deliberations, a mediation committee formed by members of the German council of federal states (Bundesrat) and parliament (Bundestag) postponed talks on tax measures in the climate package until 18 December, according to Reuters. Among other things, the package provides for an increase in the commuter allowance by five cents to 35 cents per km from 2021 and a mobility premium for low-income earners to compensate for higher fuel prices due to the planned CO2 pricing. In addition to the planned reduction in value-added tax on rail tickets, the measures also include tax relief for house renovations and a special rate for land tax on wind turbines, according to the Reuters article. The federal government needs the approval of the federal states, which had appealed to the mediation committee at the end of November. Federal states want financial compensation for the reductions in value-added tax and the tax incentives for energy-efficient buildings. An 18-member working group is to meet for the first time on 10 December in an attempt to find a compromise on the federal states’ compensation demands.

9 December 2019

6 December 2019

5 December 2019

  • Industry warns new SPD leaders against tightening Germany's climate package - The German industry lobby association BDI has warned the new leaders of the governing Social Democratic Party (SPD) against attempting to amend the government's climate package, arguing that the set of laws and measures to put German on track towards reaching its 2030 climate targets "knowingly" threatens the competitiveness of small and medium sized companies already in its current form.

4 December 2019

2 December 2019

  • New SPD leaders put German government’s future in doubt with climate demands - The members of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) have unexpectedly voted for a more left-leaning leadership, casting doubt on the future of the coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance. The designated SPD co-heads, Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken, have stressed repeatedly that their party should renegotiate parts of the 2018 coalition treaty, including reopening the 2030 climate package, agreed in late September.

29 November 2019

  • Germany’s climate law and national emissions trading system clear last legislative hurdle - The council of federal state governments (Bundesrat) has greenlit Germany’s Climate Action Law and the planned national emissions trading system for transport and buildings, clearing the last legislative hurdle. The Bundesrat also agreed to plans to increase the air traffic tax. As the federal parliament (Bundestag) has already adopted these, the German president can now formally sign all three bills into law. However, other parts of the climate package Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government decided in September are being held up. The Bundesrat called for setting up the so-called mediation committee with the Bundestag to debate planned tax changes, such as those supporting the energy-efficient modernisation of buildings, increasing the commuting allowance and decreasing the VAT on train tickets.
  • The premiers of Germany's five northern coastal states demand a renegotiation of the controversial 1,000-metre minimum distance rule from residential areas for onshore wind turbines included in the country's climate action package, arguing that it threatened a key industry of the future and national climate targets at the same time.

28 November 2019

  • A leaked draft of the coal exit law, dated 26 November and seen by Clean Energy Wire, includes a chapter on forced hard coal plant shutdowns in case operators do not sufficiently participate in the planned auctions, contradicting an earlier draft. By 2022, the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) would create a list with hard coal plants in a sequence mainly based on age, and forced shutdowns would start in 2027. The draft includes several tracked changes and it is unclear, whether these are already agreed by all ministries.

27 November 2019

25 November 2019

  • Manuela Schwesig, Social Democratic (SPD) state premier of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, said she did not expect the Bundesrat (council of federal state governments) to greenlight key climate package elements in a vote on 29 November, writes the WirtschaftsWoche. The distribution of costs still needed to be debated, she said. “It cannot be that the municipalities and states lack money for climate action on the ground," Schwesig said. "We will probably have to discuss these issues in the mediation committee.”
  • Daniel Günther (CDU), conservative premier of the northern state of Schleswig Holstein, also called for a “fair distribution of burdens” in an interview with the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung quoted by Spiegel Online. He said his state will not be able to approve the relevant legislation “for financial reasons alone.”

22 November 2019

20 November 2019

  • Design of Germany's wind power distance rules undecided as opposition to policy grows - Following intense criticism of the German government's planned minimum distance rules for wind power by industry and environmental groups, economy minister Peter Altmaier says the government has not made a final decision on what exactly these rules will mean in practice. The ministry plans to introduce them as part of a legislative package concerning the coal exit. The minister insists he needs to get everyone on board regarding the energy transition and will thus have to make concessions to citizens who oppose wind power expansion. According to media reports, however, there is also opposition against the technology inside Altmaier's own ministry. The Federal Environment Agency said that wind power expansion could grind to a halt with the planned distance rules.

18 November 2019

  • The government cabinet has decided to increase and prolong the buyer's premium for e-cars, as it had announced after a meeting between industry and government representatives in Angela Merkel's Chancellery in early November.
  • The government cabinet also decided a "master plan" for e-car charging infrastructure. It contains measures to ensure the quick development of public and private charging points for up to 10 million electric vehicles by 2030.

16 November 2019

  • Germany's parliament greenlights first major climate law - The German parliament (Bundestag) has decided the country's first major climate law, less than two months after the coalition of chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) agreed to introduce it as part of an extensive climate package to reach 2030 climate targets. The parliament also agreed on the introduction of a CO₂ pricing system for transport and buildings. The laws must now be debated by the Bundesrat, the federal council of state governments.

15 November 2019

  • The environment ministers of all German states rejected a nationwide minimum distance rule for wind turbines from the nearest settlement and said this would send the "wrong signal for the current near standstill in the expansion of onshore wind energy." At a state minister conference, they decided a resolution stating: "In view of the different circumstances (e.g. geography, settlement density) and independent state regulations, they call on the federal government to renounce the nationwide specification of distance regulations."

13 November 2019

  • Opposition parties and industry are criticising the government coalition for pushing climate legislation through parliament too quickly. "The incredible speed is not necessarily conducive and one would wish for a little more time on certain issues," said energy industry association BDEW head Kerstin Andreae at an event on the implementation of the package by Forum für Zukunftsenergien in Berlin. Lisa Badum, climate policy spokesperson for the Green group in the Bundestag, said the truncated process is not just a matter of legislation, but also a societal and structural policy issue. "We need more participation of society, so I find the current process somewhat dangerous,” she said. Martin Neumann, an MP from the pro-business Free Democrats, added that there would likely be greater "need for legislative repair" after such a hasty process.
  • German industry warns government's strict wind power rules threaten climate targets - The economy ministry has sent a legislative package including the draft of a coal exit law to other ministries for coordination. The package also included a draft amendment to the building code which would introduce stricter minimum distance rules for wind turbines to the nearest settlement. These were heavily criticised by industry, NGOs and opposition parties. The rules have also led to a row between responsible ministries, with the environment ministry vowing to "not take part in anything that endangers the expansion targets."
  • The legislative process surrounding key elements of the climate package is progressing. The relevant committees in the federal parliament (Bundestag) have adopted, among other legislation, the climate action law, the legislation to raise the air traffic tax and the act to introduce a CO₂ pricing system for transport and buildingsThe full plenary is scheduled to vote on these drafts on 15 November.

  • The federal cabinet has decided to raise the housing allowance starting in 2021 to compensate low-income households for extra costs associated with the new CO₂ pricing system in transport and buildings. The government says increased heating fuel costs are a larger burden for such households, as they pay a larger share of their income for living costs such as heat.

11 November 2019

  • Church head calls on government to improve climate package – Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), has said the German government’s recent climate policy decisions are not a sufficient answer to climate change and called for improvements, reports the public broadcaster Bayrischer Rundfunk. “Why does the government lag behind society’s growing will to change on such an important topic?,” Bedford-Strohm asked at the EKD’s annual meeting. The government should “use these dynamics in society to significantly improve the climate package.”
  • The federal government’s climate package will lead to fiscal revenue shortfalls in German states which have to be compensated, state representatives said in a debate in the Bundesrat, the council of state governments.

8 November 2019

7 November 2019

6 November 2019

  • A proactive economic policy that embraces the challenges of climate change and the energy transition and provides reliable climate policy will improve the economy's resilience, the German Council of Economic Experts (Wirtschaftsweise) says in its annual report on economic development. The council say the planned carbon pricing scheme in Germany should be made "the focal point of climate policy" that could make many other regulatory measures obsolete if it is "implemented rigorously" and accompanied by a "systematic redistribution" of additional state earnings.
  • German government gets mediocre mid-term marks for climate effort - Energy and climate policy observers grade Angela Merkel's government 3.7 points out of 10 for climate efforts in a mid-term review. Industry experts, researchers and lobbyists say plans for a CO2 price in transport and heating point in the right direction, but added that key issues such as the coal phase-out, lagging renewables expansion and a major climate law remain unsolved and must urgently be tackled in the second half of term. This article presents a collection of assessments. To read an analysis including the government view, click here.

  • The pricing system for the transport and buildings sector planned by the government is not ambitious enough for achieving Germany’s climate targets, the National Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina) says in a commentary on the climate package. The scientists say the pricing system in principle could be a very effective tool – but there needed to be "a price path that makes visible the seriousness and permanency of this measure" and allows economic actors to adapt accordingly. The academy proposes an initial price of 30 euros per tonne of CO2 by 2020 and to increase it by 10 euros per year until 2023. After that, the price should be linked to that of the EU emissions trading system (ETS) but have a minimum price of 60 and a maximum price of 130 euros per tonne. "This price path would generate higher earnings and thereby allow for more social balancing measures," the scientists say. The Leopoldina also recommends giving the planned external expert panel a strong mandate for controlling emissions reduction and to aim for a "systemic approach" to changing the economy, rather than completing a slew of individual measures.

  • The carbon pricing system for heating and transport fuels planned by Germany's government could prove to be a legal "time bomb" and lead to billions of euros in reclaims if the country's Constitutional Court decides that the levy is unlawful, climate policy research institute IKEM says in a report on the pricing scheme's legal implications.

25 October 2019

  • Opposition parties have strongly criticised the German government coalition’s climate policy package in a first parliamentary debate on key legislative elements, such as the planned major climate action law. The first reading in the Bundestag marks the beginning of parliamentary proceedings on the climate package.

24 October 2019

23 October 2019

  • The federal cabinet has adopted its draft of the National Emissions Trading System for Fuel Emissions Law. The law lays out the details of the planned national greenhouse gas emissions trading system for the transport and buildings sectors – sectors not already covered by the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). Environment minister Svenja Schulze said in a press release: “With regard to the CO2 price, I will be very careful to ensure that there is the right climate action effect and the social consequences remain fair. If Germany is not on course in one or the other, then adjustments will have to be made. After all, a CO2 price must be fair not only ecologically, but also socially.”
  • The cabinet also adopted a new building energy draft law (GEG).
  • The German government's fast pace in the legislative procedure around climate policy has left too little time for hearings, 14 associations and organisations from the economic, environmental and trade union sectors have said in an open letter to the federal government. The signatories said they "share the federal government's view that there is an urgent need for action in legislative processes related to climate policy" but warned against giving the impression that hearings were only being held "pro forma".

21 October 2019

  • The government has sent a first draft of the National Emissions Trading System for Fuel Emissions Law to associations for a stakeholder consultation process, meant to give interested groups a chance to comment on and influence the legislation. The law lays out the details of the planned national greenhouse gas emissions trading system for the transport and buildings sectors – sectors not already covered by the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). It stipulates that from 2021 onwards, companies that put fuels into circulation, such as refineries or retailers, will have to buy emissions allowances. There will be fixed prices for the allowances in the early years of the system’s implementation.

17. October 2019

  • The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) said the government’s plan for carbon pricing will not be enough to meet the 2030 emission reduction targets. A higher starting price than the proposed 10 euro per tonne CO2 would help to meet the targets more effectively and to avoid high costs for Germany from the purchase of emission rights. The researchers also found that low-income households face a larger burden than high-income households.

16. October 2019

  • The government adopted several legislative drafts to mould the decisions into tax laws and decided details concerning the design of the planned CO2 pricing system. The draft includes tax deductions for energy-efficient modernisation of buildings, higher tax-deductable allowance for commuters, an introduction of “mobility premium” for low-income commuters, lower VAT on train tickets, higher air traffic tax and possibility for local communities to introduce higher property taxes for wind parks.

14 October 2019

  • The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) have presented a joint assessment of the government’s climate package. The two institutes say that the plan is not enough to reach the 2030 climate targets, criticise the low entry-level price for CO2 emissions in the transport and buildings sectors and condemn the “weak design” of monitoring by an expert commission.
  • The commission's design was also criticised by analysts Johanna Schiele and Hanns Koenig for think tank Dezernat Zukunft. The German government would be well-advised to use the UK’s Committee on Climate Change as a model for setting up the expert commission. Schiele and Koenig called for stronger independence of the experts from the government and the right of initiative to write reports when deemed necessary.

  • North Rhine-Westphalia state premier Armin Laschet (CDU) has called on the federal cabinet to adopt the planned coal exit law by 20 November at the latest, reports the Rheinische Post. This was necessary to be able to adhere to the timetable proposed by the coal exit commission at the start of 2019, said Laschet. Ending coal-fired power produciton is an important part of the government’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector, laid out in the Climate Action Programme 2030.

11 October 2019

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel has complained that "miserably long planning and licensing procedures" are a major factor for the deficiencies of her country's climate policy. At an event by labour union IG Metall, Merkel said that protracted procedures partially are justified for constitutional reasons but argued that necessary administrative capacities had been reduced in recent years and that the urgency of different projects had not always  been appreciated. Merkel defended her government's decision to opt for an initial carbon price of ten euros per tonne. "Acceptance is always important in a society in transformation," she said, adding that the pricing scheme's effects would became quickly visible in the 2020s.

  • German automotive industry researcher Ferdinand Dudenhöffer has called for a substantial fuel price increase of 20 cents per litre to accelerate the transition towards electric mobility. "Prices at the petrol pump have the greatest effect. Car drivers are confronted with the cost of CO2 every day there," the well-known researcher of the University Duisburg-Essen said in an article by news agency dpa carried by Focus Online. Dudenhöffer says higher fuel prices would address the polluter directly, whereas the German government's approach to support the transition to e-cars with a buyer's premium meant that "everyone – also the 80-year old pensioner – will see their tax money go to those who emit CO2, the car drivers, to encourage them to change”.

  • Reaching Germany’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030 will be very difficult, said Lower Saxony state premier Stephan Weil at a discussion on the energy transition in the industry sector in Berlin. Over a 30-year-period, Germany will likely have lowered emissions by about 35 percent by 2020. “If we manage to reduce the remaining 20 percent over ten years, I won’t worry about the rest. But the next ten years will be very difficult, very hard,” said Weil. Reaching the target is “the key sociopolitical issue of the coming ten years”, he added. Weil called the federal government’s climate package “in sum a great step forward”, but criticised that the planned entry-level price for CO2 emissions in transport and buildings is far too low. The plan, therefore, “falls short at a highly symbolic point”, and Weil said he hoped the legislative process would still change this. “No law leaves the parliament the same way it has entered it, and I would be surprised if it were any different with this one,” he said. Weil also criticised that during the past two years the economy ministry has done too little regarding the energy transition. “That was a massive mistake.”

10 October 2019

  • The acting leader of the governing Social Democrats (SPD), Malu Dreyer, has said the climate package's measures "will bring a lot of changes for everyone individually – be it heating, driving or travelling”. Dreyer said even those who are ready to make their everyday lives more climate-friendly could not cope with all measures at once. "If you have to finance a new heating system, you cannot just buy a new and more climate-friendly car," Dreyer said, arguing that this was the reason why the government had chosen a "moderate" entry into carbon pricing. She insisted the climate package would mean "a paradigm change" in German climate policy and that everyone would "have to brace for much bigger things in the next years if we do not manage to make our actions more climate-friendly”.
  • The new head of Germany’s service sector labour union Verdi, Frank Werneke, has criticised the government's climate programme for being "much too hesitant" and not developing "an ecologic steering effect”. Werneke told news agency dpa that the package did not provide for social balance mechanism. "Wealthy people and those with high incomes are being spared once again," Werneke said, arguing that the bulk of expenses would be covered through consumption taxes and levies from the general public. He also criticised that public transport played a much smaller role than electric cars. "I have my doubts if the government's main plan seems to be smothering the country in e-car charging stations."

9 October 2019

8 October 2019

  • The state premier of Lower Saxony, Stephan Weil (SPD), has criticised the planned price on carbon emissions of 10 euros per tonne as a "drawback" in the government's climate package. A price equal to that of three or four beers would not be a fitting symbol, Weil said. However, he added that a cautious handling of industrial policy was warranted. "If I say that combustion engines should be gone within ten years, I drive the country's most important industry into a wall. It would be little wonder if a yellow vest movement like in France comes up in Germany as well," he said

7 October 2019

  • The Green Party's leadership has tabled a main motion for the next party conference in November titled "Act now! Measures for a climate-neutral country", in which the party proposes alternatives to the government's "disappointing" climate package. Party leaders say their "radically realistic" plan includes an entry price for carbon emissions of 40 euros per tonne that should be introduced "as an immediate measure" and rise to 60 euros by 2021. Further increases should then be decided by an "independent council" until a joint European solution has been found. In return, the Greens want to substantially lower the electricity tax and introduce an "energy allowance" to avoid social hardships.

4 October 2019

  • CSU steps on the brakes – The Christian Social Union (Bavarian sister party of chancellor Merkel’s CDU) prevented the federal cabinet from adopting the in-depth Climate Action Programme 2030 in a meeting on 2 October, reports Tagesspiegel Background. Alexander Dobrindt, head of the CSU in federal parliament, said time was too short to read the final version. An environment ministry spokesperson said: “As long as it’s decided in cabinet next week [9 October], no harm is done.” The government plans to adopt all relevant legislation in cabinet by the end of the year.

  • The latest draft of the planned in-depth Climate Action Programme 2030 – seen by Clean Energy Wire – incorporates the government’s climate package decisions from 20 September. Contrary to earlier versions, it no longer contains the provision to increase annual wind power expansion targets, but only capacity goals for 2030 (67-71 gigawatt installed capacity, up from about 53.5 GW today).

  • The Fridays for Future protest movement has called the German government‘s climate package decisions from 20 September “a political declaration of bankruptcy” in an open letter to the climate cabinet and party leaders of the grand coalition. “To sell this as a success is a slap in the face for all protesters for effective climate action,” the group writes, highlighting the major global strike on the same day. “Our society is much more progressive in terms of climate action than your federal government and prepared to support the necessary measures.” Fridays for Future calls on the government to fundamentally re-work the climate package, and says “we will protest until you act”. The group has announced it will organise another major global protest on 29 November, days ahead of the start of the UN climate conference COP25 in Chile.

2 October 2019

  • Economic institutes criticise German government’s climate package: In choosing to implement a carbon price for transport and buildings, the federal government has bet on the right instrument in its 2030 climate package, but the planned price for the years 2021-2025 “seems little ambitious,” states the Joint Economic Forecast, published by Germany’s leading economic institutes.
  • The federal cabinet has decided on a supplementary budget to finance the climate action package presented on 20 September. The government expects CO2 pricing in the buildings and transport sectors to bring in 18.8 billion euros by 2023.

  • The government has announced that it will decide the in-depth Climate Action Programme 2030 in a cabinet meeting on 9 October, reports news agency Reuters. That programme will hammer out some details left out of of the climate package announced on 20 September. The ministries were not able to come to an agreement in time for today’s cabinet meeting (2 October), as originally planned, writes Reuters.

  • Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the head of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU party, told Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung that she expects the Green Party to offer concrete climate action proposals with a price tag, instead of “simply saying that this is not enough”. The Green Party has been critical of the government’s proposed climate action package, and will have a chance to weigh in during the upcoming legislative process. The Green Party is part of the government coalitions in many German states, and the council of state governments (Bundesrat) has to approve parts of the planned legislation from the government’s climate package.

1 October 2019

  • The German government expects CO2 pricing in the buildings and transport sectors to bring in 18.8 billion euros by 2023 for its climate action package. Finance minister Olaf Scholz wants to ensure the package's implementation through a supplementary budget to be approved by the federal cabinet on 2 October. A main part of the draft budget, seen by Clean Energy Wire, is an economic plan for the country's Energy and Climate Fund, which is set to grow from 6.1 billion euros this year to 11.75 billion in 2023. Revenues from the European trade of CO2 allowances in energy and industry (EU ETS) are expected to raise an additional 14 billion euros, according to the draft.

  • The targets for renewable power consumption and wind energy expansion on land set by the German government's new climate action package require a significant boost, NGO WWF has said in a position paper.
  • German public transport consultancy kcw welcomed that the climate action package emphasised shifting motorised road traffic to rail, public transport and bicycles in an assessment of the plan. However, it criticises a lack of a concrete goal for the modal shift and the connected climate effect. Thus, it is impossible to examine whether or not the proposed measures are enough to reach 2030 climate targets, writes kcw.

30 September 2019

  • The deputy parliamentary group leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative CDU party, Andreas Jung, has called for a carbon price cap of 180 euros per tonne by 2030, news agency dpa reports in an article carried by WirtschaftsWoche. "I think we should strive for the scientifically determined price of 180 euros per tonne of CO2," said the politician who had a leading role in negotiating the climate package for his party. Climate policy could only be successful by "planting seedlings that gradually grow bigger”, Jung added. According to the article, a CO2 price of 180 euros would translate into an increase of fuel prices of about 50 cents per litre. In its current climate strategy programme, the government has planned a gradual rise of carbon prices from 10 to 35 euros per tonne between 2021 and 2025 and capped the price at 60 euros in 2026. The cap prevailing after that year will be decided on in 2025, according to the programme.
  • The German government's climate package represents a "classic example of political compromise" and also illustrates the country's somewhat inconsistent attitude towards climate action, Deutsche Bank Research writes in an analysis of the 2030 programme. "Whilst a majority of Germans support more climate protection, only a few are willing to shoulder the financial burdens," the analysis says, concluding that the package as it stands ultimately will not bring about the "major shift away from established consumption patterns and production processes" that is needed to reach Germany's long-term emissions reduction goals.

27 September 2019

  • Most Germans say the government's climate action plan doesn’t go far enough in terms of emissions reduction, polls by public broadcaster ZDF show. Fifty-three percent of all respondents said the package is insufficient, 20 percent answered the climate package is enough to address the challenges, and 13 percent said it went too far.

26 September 2019

  • Chancellor Angela Merkel's Conservatives insist on a low initial price tag for CO2 emissions to secure public acceptance for the government's new climate strategy. In the first parliamentary debate on the package unveiled Friday, parties traded blows over the effectiveness and economic consequences of the Climate Action Programme 2030. Environment minister Schulze conceded that the entry price was set "very cautiously."

  • Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) are prepared to raise the climate package's initial CO2 price. Following widespread criticism that the currently envisaged starting price of 10 euros per tonne in the transport and heating sectors was much too low to have any significant effect, acting SPD leader Malu Dreyer suggested her party would agree to double the initial price tag for emissions.
  • The climate action package will be a "major legislative task", according to an analysis by the German Energy Agency (dena) and law firm BBH. The analysis assesses all 66 measures of the climate package, outlining which laws, ordinances and standards would need to be changed and concludes that in many cases, "the measures are associated with complex legislative procedures and will require extensive political coordination”.

25 September 2019

  • German environmental NGOs have used the publication of the latest report by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the ocean and the cryosphere to renew their criticism of the government's new strategy for emissions reduction. The organisations said the 2030 climate package announced on Friday was a case in point for policymaking that does not fully appreciate the gravity of environmental challenges the world population is facing.
  • Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended her government's climate policy against criticism by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. Merkel told journalists in New York that while Thunberg's speech at the UN Climate Action Summit had been "rousing", it did not sufficiently express the way in which technology and innovation open up opportunities to achieve the objectives.

24 September 2019

  • The heads of Germany's environment agency UBA and energy agency dena doubt the effectiveness of the government's comprehensive climate policy package to help the country meet its 2030 emissions reduction target.

  • Higher energy efficiency, a "paradigm shift" in the circular economy, innovative production processes, as well as carbon capture and usage or storage could make Germany's industry CO2-neutral by 2050, but the government's new climate strategy does not provide the necessary incentives, according to environmental NGO WWF.

23 September 2019

  • The future of Germany's much criticised climate strategy hangs in the balance as the Green Party vowed to amend the package, and experts warned legal hurdles threatened the government's concept for a CO2 price.

20 September 2019 - Germany's government introduces 2030 Climate Action Programme

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