30 Oct 2018, 13:23
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Turbulent times in German politics/ Politicians ignore emissions costs

Clean Energy Wire

German newspaper editorials focus on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s shock move to prepare for departure. “The Merkel era draws to a close,” comments Süddeutsche Zeitung. “The CDU’s renewal and reformation may begin […] This injects a new dynamism into German politics, because a ‘keep it up’ approach no longer works for the other parties of the coalition either,” according to Süddeutsche Zeitung. Germany “must prepare for a continuation of turbulent times […] We face the dawn of a new era,” according to the regional Westfalen-Blatt. While several commentators praise the characteristic “sober style” of Merkel’s move, others argue that it was long overdue because “the clocks stood still far too long in Germany”, according to the Mittelbayerische Zeitung.

Read a summary of newspaper commentaries in German here.

Find background in the article Merkel prepares departure in shock move at key time for climate policy.


Germany will likely have to buy emissions rights worth billions of euros for failing EU transport and agriculture climate targets in the 2020s, but parliament and finance ministry appear only dimly aware of this risk, writes Bernhard Pötter in tageszeitung. The finance ministry only told the paper that a reliable cost estimate was not yet possible, while the parliament’s budget committee said the topic was “not yet on its radar”. 
Germany’s climate protection targets in the sectors not covered by the EU emissions trading scheme ETS are legally binding under EU law. If Germany does not achieve them, it will have to buy additional emission rights from other EU countries

Read the article in German here.

Get background in the article Germany may have to buy way out of EU climate goal - ministry paper

Süddeutsche Zeitung

In a bid to avoid the decision to implement climate protection steps such as introducing a price on CO₂ emissions, politicians often hide behind citizens who supposedly do not want such measures, Director and Chief Economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) Ottmar Edenhofer told Süddeutsche Zeitung in an interview. Empirical studies confirm a high willingness of citizens to pay more for coal, oil and gas, said Edenhofer. Politicians lacked the courage to explain to the voters that a price on CO₂ is necessary for effective climate protection, but needed to explain the why and how. “In explaining, however, German politics is not at all that good at the moment,” said Edenhofer.

Find the interview (behind paywall) in German here.

NDR / Iberdrola

“Wikinger”, Germany’s largest Baltic Sea offshore wind park, has been inaugurated, marking Spanish energy company Iberdrola's entry into the German electricity market, reports public broadcaster NDR. The 350 megawatt facility – its 70 turbines located off the island of Rügen – is the first offshore wind farm to be designed and operated one hundred per cent by a Spanish company, writes Iberdrola in a press release.

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

For background, read the CLEW dossier Offshore wind power in Germany.


Volkswagen reported an 18.6 percent drop in third-quarter adjusted operating profit to 3.51 billion euros due to weaker vehicle sales tied to the introduction of more stringent anti-pollution rules, report Edward Taylor and Jan Schwartz for Reuters. Volkswagen has struggled to adapt its fleet to the worldwide harmonized light vehicle test procedure, known as WLTP, which took effect last month.

Read the article in English here.

Find background in the factsheet Dieselgate forces VW to embrace green mobility and the dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.

Die Welt

For the first time in Germany, the waste heat from a copper mill will be used to heat a neighbourhood in the city of Hamburg, reports Jörn Lauterbach in Die Welt. A 3.7-kilometre pipeline with a capacity of 60 megawatt will transport hot water resulting from industrial production at the Aurubis plant. “Using this heat prevents more than 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year,” according to Aurubis.

Read the article in German here.

Find the press release in German here.


Big financial investors, such as banks, insurance companies, investment trusts or pension funds, have long ignored the climate crisis as a field of action. But by now they have become one of the biggest drivers of change in the approach of industrial societies towards the environment, Ingo Narat and Christian Schnell write in the Handelsblatt. The investors put pressure on companies in search of credits to reveal the climate risks of possible investments and to formulate a risk management strategy, a change in tone that two thirds of the largest companies listed on Germany’s stock exchange report they have experienced, the article says. While the pressure investors exert has its boundaries in that they still intend to generate profits from any investment, capital owners seem to increasingly realise that inaction in climate questions could damage their revenue prospects even more in the long run, the authors say.

Read the article in German here.

Find background in the CLEW interview with the German stock exchange’s sustainability head.

Institute for Applied Ecology (Öko-Institut) / Fraunhofer ISI / ifeu

The technologies required to drastically cut road freight emissions in Germany are readily available, but policies to incentivise the transition are urgently needed, according to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (Franhofer ISI), the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (ifeu), and the Institute for Applied Ecology (Öko-Institut). The institutes argue that ambitious efficiency standards for trucks, a tax reform geared to lower CO2 emissions, and an infrastructure roll-out are necessary to kickstart the shift to alternative propulsion systems. Electric trucks using batteries and overhead lines are “particularly promising”, according to the study.

Find the press release and the study in German here.

Find plenty of background in the dossier How Germany is greening its growing freight sector to meet climate targets.

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