Benjamin Wehrmann – Informed Comment Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion Thu, 03 Dec 2020 06:35:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Germany’s Crypto-Neo-Nazi AfD Party calls for end to all climate action efforts Sun, 20 Sep 2020 04:01:55 +0000 ( Clean Energy Wire ) – The right-wing nationalist AfD party has called for an end to all major climate action efforts Germany has committed itself to and wants to abandon both the Paris Climate Agreement and the European Green Deal. One year before the general election in autumn 2021, the party that holds 12.6 percent of the seats in the German Bundestag thereby firmly positions itself as the only one in parliament that is openly opposed to emissions reduction efforts. The party that has surged in the wake of Germany’s 2015 refugee and immigration crisis has sought to appeal to climate change-deniers and people dissatisfied with Germany’s energy transition already in the past and now reaffirmed its rejection of climate action by a series of motions in parliament.

The party, for example, calls for an “exit from Germany’s coal exit;” says the government should drop its planned carbon pricing scheme for the transport and heating sector; abandon the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) that is used to fund the expansion of renewable power sources; tighten the licensing rules for wind power turbines; and end all support for climate action measures abroad.

Instead, the party wants to reverse Germany’s nuclear power phase-out and calls for a “renaissance” of the technology through intensified research. The party says Germany should immediately cease its payments connected to obligations under climate contracts and argues that the expansion of renewables amounts to a “substantial impairment of the environment” due to the spatial needs of wind and solar power installations. The AfD states that “there is no scientific evidence for a relevant impact of human-made CO2 emissions on the world’s climate” and instead stresses that there would be a “risk through impoverishment and economic decline” due to the coronavirus pandemic that had to have a “much higher priority than any climate-fiction.”

The right-wing party that has been shaken by internal strife in the past months due to some leading members’ connections to neo-fascist circles in Germany and the implications this has for the AfD’s general positioning is suffering from a general decline in voter support that has only been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, which in turn has led to surging support for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance. In recent local elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous federal state that is heavily affected by the country’s decision to phase out coal power, the AfD gained five percent of the vote.

Via Clean Energy Wire


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]]> Greta Thunberg and Youth to Angela Merkel: ‘Abandon Fossil Fuel Industry’ Sat, 22 Aug 2020 04:02:25 +0000 By Benjamin Wehrmann

( Clean Energy Wire) – Greta Thunberg and fellow activists have met German Chancellor Angela Merkel to exchange views on the fight against climate change. The campaigners said the 90 minute meeting’s atmosphere was friendly, but also added that “we look at the situation from different perspectives.” Merkel’s spokesman said the EU’s goal of climate neutrality by 2050, as well as a more ambitious 2030 reduction target, were the key issues debated during the meeting.

Greta Thunberg and other youth climate activists have called on Chancellor Angela Merkel to review her government’s treatment of the fossil fuel industry and “abandon valid contracts and deals” whenever necessary to ensure compliance with the Paris Climate Agreement. Asked during a press conference following the meeting what kind of “system change” she and her fellow activists refer to when making the case for a more climate-friendly economy, Thunberg said reconsidering existing plans for fossil fuel production was key, as these would already far exceed the volumes allowed until 2030 in a Paris-compliant scenario.

Together with fellow activists Luisa Neubauer, Anuna de Wever and Adelaide Charlier, the 17-year old Swedish campaigner met Merkel for a 90-minute talk at her Berlin office to hand the chancellor an open letter signed by about 125,000 people, in which they especially call upon the European Union to step up its emissions reduction efforts and “treat the climate- and ecological emergency like an emergency.”

Thunberg said the activists were looking to find leaders who “prioritise the future over the past” and argued that the letter merely describes “the very minimum” of what needs to be done to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

German activist Luisa Neubauer described the meeting’s atmosphere as friendly and thanked Merkel for taking time to listen to the young campaigners, but added that “we need action more than nice words” to tackle the immense challenge ahead. “We ask for nothing more than implementing the Paris Agreement,” Neubauer said. She added that trade mechanisms, carbon pricing and the EU’s 2030 emissions reduction targets were among the topics discussed with Merkel, saying that “it became clear that we look at the situation from different perspectives.” The four activists said that despite the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, they call upon all of their supporters to join a global climate strike on 25 September.

Merkel’s spokesman confirmed that the EU’s goal of climate neutrality by 2050 as well as a tighter 2030 reduction goal were the key issues debated during the meeting. “Both sides agree that global warming is a global challenge that comes with a special responsibility for industrialised states to overcome it,” Steffen Seibert said. “A rigorous implementation of the Paris Agreement is the basis for that,” he added.

The meeting on 20 August took place exactly two years after Thunberg held her first school strike for climate action in Sweden alone, marking the beginning of an international student movement that would evolve to draw millions of people to the streets about one year later. “I guess we celebrate the two year anniversary – although we’re not the kind of people who spend time on celebrating,” Thunberg said. The protests initiated by the Swedish activist found many supporters in Germany especially, with Merkel conceding in 2019 that the Fridays for Future movement had compelled the government to intensify its efforts to make Germany’s economy carbon-neutral.

Via Clean Energy Wire


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Coal Plummets 30% in Germany as Renewables Gain during Covid-19 Slowdown Fri, 07 Aug 2020 04:01:13 +0000 ( Clean Energy Wire) – An abrupt halt to economic activity and greatly reduced mobility in reaction to the coronavirus outbreak have let Germany’s energy consumption plummet in the first half of 2020. While all fossil fuels and especially coal experienced a sharp drop in demand, energy produced with renewables increased its share and absolute output in the country’s energy system. Market research group AGEB says that energy demand for the entire year could drop by up to 12 percent if the pandemic leads to another economic lockdown situation.

The lockdown of the German economy and other effects caused by the coronavirus pandemic will likely lead to a decline of between 7 and 12 percent in the country’s annual energy demand, according to estimates by energy market research group AG Energiebilanzen (AGEB) based on figures in the first six months of the year. The higher figure will be likelier should Germany order another lockdown in case of a significant resurgence of coronavirus infection numbers, whereas if the pandemic is largely kept under control, a more moderate single-digit reduction is likely, AGEB stated.

Between January and July, the country’s energy demand dropped by nearly 9 percent compared to the previous year to 5,961 petajoules. “The coronavirus pandemic is primarily responsible for the receding consumption,” AGEB said, adding that favourable weather conditions also helped bring down demand. While all fossil fuels were used less, two-thirds of the total reduction in consumption was due to falling coal power use, with hard coal contracting by 25 percent and lignite by more than 35 percent compared to the previous year. This means that CO2 emissions in the energy sector will likely shrink by 13 percent in the first half of the year and between 10 and 17 percent for the whole year, the researchers said.

“This development is mostly due to a much higher feed-in from wind and solar power installations as well as a greater use of natural gas for power production.” Moreover, several lignite plant blocks were taken offline and moved into Germany’s power security reserve. The use of coking coal for industry purposes also dropped by nearly 20 percent due to reduced production. Oil use dropped 6.7 percent through the end of June and natural gas by 4.6 percent. Nuclear power production dropped by about 13 percent due to the shutdown of a plant at the end of last year.

Thanks to the drop in fossil fuel use across the board, the share of renewables in Germany’s total energy consumption grew by 3 percent in the first half of 2020. Wind, solar, biomass and hydropower contributed 17.5 percent to primary energy consumption. Lower power demand and an unprecedented drop in natural gas prices also changed the power mix in other European countries, AGEB added. Germany’s negative power trading balance therefore was much lower in the past half of the year than in 2019, meaning that Germany’s power imports grew significantly while power exports fell.

Via Clean Energy Wire


AP: “Activists urge Germany to phase out coal energy”

In 2020, Wind and Solar could cover nearly Six Months of Germany’s Annual Power Demand Sun, 21 Jun 2020 04:01:03 +0000 (Clean Energy Wire) – The amount of electricity produced with renewable energy sources in Germany within one year could theoretically power the country for 172 days, energy provider E.ON has calculated. Germany’s “Green Energy Day” thus would be on 20 June in 2020 – 47 percent of the whole year, and more than two weeks later than last year, the company said.

Twenty years ago, the amount of electricity produced with renewables would have been exhausted in January.

“This day therefore is an indicator for the energy transition’s status quo,” E.ON argued. Several renewable energy production records in the first half of 2020 and a lower power demand due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic helped push the date further back this year, the company explained.

According to a survey commissioned by the energy provider, about one third of all people in the country are underestimating the capability of renewable power sources, while around one in four think they currently provide more electricity than they actually do. Another 25 percent estimated correctly that the output of renewables in theory can cover Germany’s electricity demand for about six months.

Renewables covered more than half of Germany’s electricity consumption over a whole quarter for the first time ever between January and March 2020 and lots of sunshine and wind let renewable energy production soar also in the months that followed. The government aims to bring the share of renewables in annual power consumption to 65 percent by 2030, from about 43 percent in 2019.

Via Clean Energy Wire


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