Clean Energy Wire – Informed Comment Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion Wed, 12 May 2021 05:21:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Germany’s Green Party is in the Lead, and sees Biden as climate ally on Blocking Russian Gas Pipeline Sun, 09 May 2021 04:01:56 +0000 By Charlotte Nijhuis

The co-leader of the German Greens, Annalena Baerbock, emphasised possibilities for closer cooperation between Germany and the U.S. on issues including climate action at a virtual event of the Atlantic Council. “We as Europeans and we as German Greens are not very far apart from the current U.S. administration,” Baerbock said.

The chancellor candidate highlighted the opportunity to create a ‘transatlantic green deal,’ thereby “investing in a future of carbon neutrality with a strong movement of social justice.” Baerbock also called for an end to the construction of the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which is to connect Russia and Germany, citing the security threat for Ukraine as the main reason.

“We cannot finalise this project.” Instead, she proposes that the Ukrainian pipeline system be “modernised” in the future, allowing Ukraine to transport green hydrogen to the European Union. “It’s not just being against this pipeline, Nord Stream 2; it’s really enabling Ukraine to transport green gas in the future to the European Union.”

Germany will head to the polls on 26 September to elect a new federal parliament and government. The Green Party has been leading national polls in recent days, surpassing the conservative CDU/CSU bloc and increasing its chances of providing the next chancellor to follow Angela Merkel.


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Annalena Baerbock: The Green Party’s candidate to succeed chancellor Angela Merkel | DW News

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In Historic Ruling, German High Court slaps down Gov’t Climate Plan, Orders Accelerated Action against CO2 Sun, 02 May 2021 04:03:50 +0000 By Sören Amelang Kerstine Appunn Charlotte Nijhuis and Julian Wettengel | –

( Clean Energy Wire) – Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that the government has to have a more detailled plan how to reduce emissions as of 2030 to not put the largest burden on today’s young people. Photo: FfF.

In an unexpected decision widely hailed as historic, Germany’s highest court has ruled that the government’s climate legislation is insufficient, lacking detail on emission reduction targets beyond 2030. The decision “significantly strengthens” climate action by ruling that if the government fails to protect the climate, it could violate citizens’ fundamental rights, legal experts said. Youth activists, who had lodged the complaint to force the government to do more to mitigate climate change, said the ruling was a timely decision ahead of Germany’s federal election this year. Conservative and Social Democratic ministers from the ruling grand coalition government blamed each other for the lack of post-2030 clarity and promised they would present reform proposals. However, it is likely the task of finding a solution will be up to the next government after the September general election, which could catapult the Green Party to power. [Update adds background, additional reactions]

Germany’s Constitutional Court has found in a landmark ruling that key parts of the country’s climate legislation are insufficient. The court said Germany’s Climate Action Law is partly unconstitutional and obliged the government to introduce details on greenhouse gas reduction targets for the period after 2030 by the end of next year.

“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 with support from several environmental NGOs. “The provisions irreversibly offload major emission reduction burdens onto periods after 2030.”

Legal experts said the decision is unexpected and unprecedented in Germany and will have far-reaching effects. “Climate action has been significantly strengthened by the Federal Constitutional Court today,” Thorsten Müller, head of Stiftung Umweltenergierecht (foundation for research on energy and environment law), told Clean Energy Wire. “So far, we have not had any successful lawsuits for more climate action in German jurisdiction.”

He called the decision “historic,” as for the first time the court made very clear that a violation of the state’s obligation to protect the “natural foundations of life,” which it said includes climate protection, could constitute a violation of the fundamental rights of citizens. Citizens now have a process to sue, but lawsuits for more climate action “are unlikely to succeed in most cases, unless we are in the situation where the state violates its objective duty to protect,” he explained. Concrete climate policy would still be decided in the political process.

The German court’s decision follows a rising number of similar cases across the world. In the first decision of its kind, the Netherland’s Supreme Court in 2019 upheld a ruling by a lower court forcing the government to meet emission reduction targets. The case not only inspired German activists, but also similar climate justice lawsuits in many other countries, including Belgium, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Britain, Switzerland and Norway.
Climate action is not ‘nice-to-have’ – activist

Müller said he was greatly surprised by the ruling. “If you had asked me before, I would have said that this lawsuit has no chance of success.”

Germany’s current governing coalition of chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) introduced the country’s first major climate law with binding emissions reduction targets for the 2020s as part of a comprehensive package of measures in 2019. The package was meant to ensure that Germany reaches its 2030 targets, but the climate action law also included a line on “pursuing” the long-term target of greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050. However, it postponed the decision for emissions reduction targets post-2030 to a later date.

Climate activists welcomed the ruling. “Climate action is not ‘nice-to-have’, it’s our fundamental right and from today we know that officially,” said Lisa Neubauer, one of the leading figures of Germany’s Fridays for Future protest movement, at a press conference after publication of the ruling. “It gives us everything we need for this year, for this federal election campaign, and for our future work as a movement.”

Neubauer and several other activists, supported by NGOs Germanwatch and Greenpeace, had sued the German government in early 2020 over what they said was its insufficient action to tackle climate change. It was one of several lawsuits filed then, which CDU lawmaker Jan-Marco Luczack had dismissed as a good “PR gag.” A first similar lawsuit against the federal government was filed by three farming families with the help of Greenpeace in October 2018. The Berlin Administrative Court dismissed that suit.

The immediate consequence of the ruling is that the German legislator must regulate the continuation of the reduction targets for the post-2031 period by 31 December 2022 at the latest. This does not mean annual sector reduction targets until 2050, when climate neutrality is to be reached, cautioned Müller. However, “there must be points of reference, that is the core message of this ruling, in order to be able to precisely assess how we get from today to the goal of climate neutrality.” The court also did not rule that the targets until 2030 have to be adapted.
Future obligations to reduce emissions violate plaintiffs’ rights to freedom

The court said Germany’s Basic Law – the country’s constitution – obliges the state to protect the climate, which includes reaching the target of climate neutrality. The court did not prescribe when or how this goal should be reached, but said the German government had already decided to try to limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and preferably to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, as prescribed by the Paris Climate Agreement. The court argued that the emissions reduction provisions in the climate law violate the complainants’ freedoms guaranteed by Basic Law.

To reach the Paris targets, the post-2030 goals would have to be achieved faster and more urgently, it said. “These future obligations to reduce emissions have an impact on practically every type of freedom because virtually all aspects of human life still involve the emission of greenhouse gases and are thus potentially threatened by drastic restrictions after 2030,” said the court, adding that the legislator should have taken precautionary steps to mitigate these major burdens in order to safeguard the freedom guaranteed by fundamental rights.
“Generational climate action budget” for Germany

This is the second aspect that makes the decision historic, said legal expert Müller. “We are always talking about budget approaches in the area of climate action,” he said. Now the Federal Constitutional Court added a new dimension to this by not only saying there is a global emissions budget that must be divided up among states. “No, there is also a generational climate action budget within the countries.”

Lawyer Hermann Ott from environmental organisaton ClientEarth also saw this as a key part of the ruling. “For the first time, a German court has accepted that we have a limited climate budget left and that the constitutional duty to protect future generations is engaged.” If the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions is not fairly distributed over the next 30 years until 2050, “there may be disproportionate impacts on the fundamental rights of future generations,” Ott said. “The court has now recognised this and made it clear to the government that climate debts cannot be postponed.”
Ruling parties enter blame game, promise reform

Government representatives from conservatives and Social Democrats entered a sort of blame game after the publication of the ruling. Environment minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) said she would have liked to include another interim target for the 2030s, “but there was no majority for this” in the negotiations in 2019. Her Social Democrat colleague and chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz publicly criticised CDU economy minister Peter Altmaier: “To the best of my recollection, you and the CDU/CSU have prevented exactly what has now been called for by the Federal Constitutional Court. But we can quickly correct that. Are you with us?” Schulze said she would present key points for a reform of the climate law in summer.

Altmaier did not talk about the 2019 negotiations, but replied that he already proposed post-2030 interim targets in his call for a “historic consensus” on climate among all German parties in September 2020, which in turn was not answered by the SPD.

At a press conference, Altmaier said that the ruling was of “extraordinary importance” for climate protection, the rights of young people and for the planning security of German businesses. “We have set into motion many things in the past years. Some of them came late, maybe too late,” Altmaier said. He added that the ruling must be respected and implemented. “I see this ruling as a gift, because it means that climate action is put back on the agenda before the general election.” He said he would present his fellow ministers with suggestions in the coming weeks on how the government could ensure that climate policy making wasn’t delayed by the elections and the ensuing creation of a new government.

German parties have swung into full campaign mode for the national election in September, after both the Conservatives and the Green Party presented their chancellor candidates last week. This also means that a decision on the reform of the climate law will be up to the next government, in which the Greens could play an important role, maybe even providing the chancellor.

The party’s candidate, Annalena Baerbock, welcomed the ruling. Calling it a “historic decision” on twitter, she wrote that it gave a concrete mandate to revise the climate action law now. “Climate action protects our freedom and the freedom of our children and grandchildren […] The next few years are crucial for consistent action,” she said.

“Meanwhile, the Greens’ chancellor candidate floats serenely above it all, hailing the ‘historic decision’,” commented journalist Tom Nuttall on Twitter.
Ruling strengthens planning security for German companies

German stakeholders largely welcomed the ruling as a push for more clarity and ambitious climate action. German industry federation BDI highlighted the need for planning security for companies it represents. “In a transparent way, policymakers must outline viable climate paths up to 2050 in order to specify CO2 reductions. This creates clarity and planning security for companies to develop new technologies and invest massively, and is in the interest of industry,” said BDI in a statement.

Ingbert Liebing, head of the German association of local utilities (VKU), also welcomed the decision. “The ruling increases the pressure to create clear and more reliable framework conditions for climate protection in the long term,” Liebing said. “Municipal enterprises are already making a variety of contributions to climate protection today, but for this they need reliable framework conditions from politicians – as the judges in Karlsruhe have clearly demanded today.”

Via Clean Energy Wire


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Greentech is 15% of German Economy, and its Market Volume will Double in 10 Years to $1 Trillion Sun, 25 Apr 2021 04:01:29 +0000 By Kerstine Appunn | –

( Clean Energy Wire ) – Experts from Germany’s environment ministry expect the global market for environmental technologies to grow by more than seven percent annually in the next ten years.

The German sector is developing even more dynamically with average annual growth of more than eight percent, the environment ministry said upon publication of its “GreenTech Atlas 2021.” The ministry said that the ecological transformation of the economy and society is in full swing and is leading to radically changed market conditions and business models.

“The companies that will benefit from this are those that offer technologies and services to successfully shape this transformation,” the ministry statement said.

In 2020, the market volume of the domestic industry amounted to 392 billion euros. By 2030, it will more than double to 856 billion euros, according to the report. Environmental technology and its companies produced 15 percent of Germany’s gross domestic product in 2020, and the COVID-19 crisis affected the sector “far less than the economy as a whole.”

Environment minister Svenja Schulze said: “The strong achievements of the German green tech companies are not only good for the environment but also make our economy stronger and more crisis-proof”.

The “GreenTech Atlas” examines developments in environmental technology and resource efficiency on behalf of the environment ministry. It provides up-to-date information on technologies, market sizes and growth expectations in the sector’s various lead markets.

Via Clean Energy Wire


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Germany Trade and Invest: “Germany’s “Green Deal””

Germany’s State Rails, already 61%-renewables Fueled, to add 190 GWh of North Sea Wind toward being 80% Green by 2030 Sat, 10 Apr 2021 04:01:12 +0000 By Charlotte Nijhuis | –

( Clean Energy Wire) – State-owned German railway company Deutsche Bahn and utility RWE extend their renewable energy contract with an additional 190 gigawatt hours (GWh) of offshore wind power annually, the railway writes in a press release.

The contract will run for a period of fifteen years from 2025. Green power will come from the Amrumbank-West offshore wind farm off Heligoland in the North Sea, which is owned by RWE. With the deal, the railway company will have around one third of the market share of green energy contracts not supported via the Renewable Energy Act (EEG), the company writes.

“Our consistent path to 100 percent green power is helping to ensure that the market for renewable energies in this country continues to develop,” said Deutsche Bahn’s head of energy Torsten Schein. “We see great potential for expansion in solar energy and wind power,” he added. In the autumn of 2020, the railway company already secured 780 GWh of green electricity in three deals with power providers for a period of fifteen years, including 260 GWh from the offshore wind farm off Heligoland supplied by RWE.

The deal gets Deutsche Bahn another step closer to its goal of covering about 80 percent of its electricity needs using renewables by 2030 and 100 percent by 2038. Currently, around 61 percent of the railway’s electricity comes from sustainable sources, according to the company.

Deutsche Bahn, which portrays itself as the climate-friendly alternative to cars and airplanes, therefore still also relies on conventional sources. Coal covers about 20 percent of its enormous electricity demand, for example from the lignite-fired power plant in Schkopau and the new coal-fired power plant in Datteln, to which the railway committed in a 2007 contract.

Via Clean Energy Wire

[ Germany Railways announced late last year that it would] “sharply cut back its use of coal power by increasing the share of renewable electricity, reports Gerald Traufetter in Spiegel Online. Deutsche Bahn secured 780 gigawatt hours (GWh) of green electricity in three deals with power providers, said the company. This amount of renewable electricity can power around 40,000 trains for 23 days, according to the Deutsche Bahn. Eighty GWh of electricity will be provided by a solar park in the East of the country, 440 GWh by a hydroelectric power plant on the Bavarian-Austrian border and another 260 GWh by an offshore wind farm off Heligoland that is being built by RWE, according to the article. The contracts are intended to secure long-term supply for a period of fifteen years.”


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WELT Documentary: “German ICE Train – High Speed On Rails | Full Documentary”

Green hydrogen could reduce CO2 emissions by up to 25 million tonnes in German Ruhr region Sat, 03 Apr 2021 04:01:58 +0000 By Charlotte Nijhuis | –

Green hydrogen technology can help reduce emissions from industry, transport and heating in the German Ruhr region up to 72 percent by 2050 compared to 2018, the private industry-sponsored German Economic Institute (IW) shows in a report commissioned by the Ruhr Regional Association (RVR). The IW looked at six different scenarios for the development and use of hydrogen in the western German metropolitan region, home to five million inhabitants and many power plants as well as steel and chemical industries.

Depending on the scenario, use of green hydrogen in all sectors except the energy industry could reduce the annual CO₂ emissions by 19.5 to 25.5 million metric tonnes, according to the IW. This corresponds to a reduction of 55 to 72 percent by 2050 compared to 2018, based on emissions data from the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), the IW writes. “Provided that it is produced green, hydrogen can become the central technology of the Ruhr metropole in achieving the climate targets,” said Hanno Kempermann, head of Industries and Regions at IW.

Green hydrogen made with renewable energy is considered key to solving some of the energy transition’s challenges, such as decarbonising industry processes and long-haul freight transport. It is often portrayed as a silver bullet, which would allow current practices to largely remain unchanged while simply switching to a climate-friendly fuel, thus allowing industrial production to continue in Germany.

However, the production and use of hydrogen is inefficient compared to using the renewable electricity directly across the sectors. In addition, for some time Germany is unlikely to be able to produce sufficiant amounts of renewable electricity itself. Thus, many consider green hydrogen a precious energy source that should only be used where absolutely necessary.

The IW also states that “the production and use of hydrogen from renewable energy sources is not yet economically viable,” and a rapid market ramp-up of the technology is needed. The RVR argues the Ruhr region is a convincing location to expand the hydrogen market due to the density of industrial plants, comprehensive infrastructure and research institutes in the area.

“These prerequisites favour the development of an internationally oriented hydrogen economy here locally and hold enormous employment potential,” said RVR regional director Karola Geiss.


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Green Hydrogen and Germany’s Energy Future

Germany sees record greenhouse gas emission fall due to pandemic, renewables Sat, 27 Mar 2021 04:01:51 +0000 By Kerstine Appunn and Julian Wettengel | –

( Clean Energy Wire) – Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions dropped nearly nine percent in 2020 – the largest annual fall since 1990 – as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed down the use of fossil fuels and added to the effects of the shift to renewable energy sources, mild weather and rising CO2 prices. Estimates released by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) showed that emissions fell in all economic sectors, most notably in energy and transport, as lockdown measures severely restricted economic activity and movement for months. This also means that almost all sectors have reached their emissions reduction targets for 2020 and Germany’s overall goal of a 40 percent emission reduction over 1990 has been achieved. The exception is the buildings sector, which emitted about 2 million tonnes of CO2 more than allowed. Germany’s newly installed Council of Experts on Climate Change will now assess the emissions data and present a report by mid-April.

Graph shows German greenhouse gas emissions by sector 1990-2020. Source: CLEW.

Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions fell 8.7 percent in 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic threw Germany’s economy into recession and lockdown measures put a damper on public life and mobility. The pandemic added to the effects of the shift to renewable energy sources, mild weather and rising CO2 prices and caused the biggest emissions drop since 1990. Preliminary data released by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) showed that all economic sectors decreased climate-harmful emissions, with a combined reduction of about 70 million tonnes CO2 equivalents (CO2-eq), bringing the country’s total emissions to 739 million tonnes.

“We see climate policy instruments starting to work, especially the expansion of renewable energies and CO2 pricing. But without the corona lockdowns and their restrictions on production and mobility, Germany would have missed its 2020 climate target,” UBA president Dirk Messner said at a press conference. This means that emissions will rise again when the economy picks up, he added, warning that this would particularily be true for the transport sector. Messner attributed one third of 2020 emission reductions to corona effects. “But that means two-thirds have been due to structural changes and climate measures,” he said.

“Disasters and economic slumps are no substitute for effective action against global warming.”
– Svenja Schulze, German environment minister

Compared to 1990, German emissions decreased by 40.8 percent, which means the country has overshot its original target of reducing them by 40 percent. All but one sector reached their assigned greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2020. The exception is the buildings sector, which emitted about 2 million tonnes of CO2 more than allowed. However, Germany will have to introduce more ambitious climate action over the coming decade. The European Union has decided to raise its 2030 climate target, which almost certainly means Germany will have to do more as well.

Environment minister Svenja Schulze said: “The fact that Germany has now achieved its climate target for 2020 after all is no reason for us to rest on our laurels. The higher EU climate target will also demand more from Germany”. Schulze suggested that the government doubles the pace of wind and solar power expansion in this decade and said further measures have to be examined in the buildings sector. She said: “Disasters and economic slumps are no substitute for effective action against global warming”.

Patrick Graichen, head of think tank Agora Energiewende* said emissions are likely going to rise again in the next three years, due to catch-up effects after the corona crisis and the lack of expansion of wind and solar plants. “The current growth in renewable energies is not sufficient to compensate for the end of nuclear energy in 2022,” he said.

“Without the corona lockdowns, Germany would have missed its 2020 climate target.”
Dirk Messner, UBA president

Germany’s data mirror developments seen in major economies around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 triggered the largest annual drop in global energy-related CO2 emissions since World War II, recent data published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) has shown. They fell by about six percent, but levels quickly rebounded as countries began to recover from the economic crisis. In December 2020, global emissions were two percent higher than they were in the same month a year earlier. Emissions in the European Union remained below 2019 levels throughout the year, as did Germany’s emissions (compared by quarter).
Total energy use at historic low, coal consumption plummets

The drop in Germany’s emissions was expected after energy market research group AG Energiebilanzen (AGEB) had said in December that energy consumption fell to a “historic low” in 2020. This pushed down energy-related CO2 emissions – those that come from using fossil coal, gas and oil to generate electricity or heat, which make up about 85 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the country.

The coronavirus lockdown measures reduced activity in transport – notably aviation, causing a drop in kerosene and oil use – and industry, manufacturing, trade and services, which reduced fossil gas consumption and electricity needs, AGEB had said. As less power was consumed and renewable sources increased their share, lignite and hard coal use fell significantly by 23 million tonnes CO2-eq and 13 milliton tonnes respectively. This was also due to rising CO2 prices in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) and low gas prices, triggering a shift to gas power instead of coal, UBA’s Dirk Messner said. In addition, mild weather, and long-term trends, such as increased energy efficiency, helped bring down emissions.
Info-Box: 2020 change in emissions in the sectors energy industry, transport, industry, buildings, agriculture and waste

Info-Box: 2020 change in emissions in the sectors energy industry, transport, industry, buildings, agriculture and waste

Year-on-year change in emissions 2019-2020:

Energy industry: 2020 emissions of 221 million tonnes CO2-eq (annual budget under climate action law 280 million tonnes) | Decrease of 38 million tonnes CO2-eq | 14.5% reduction | Largest contribution from lignite (-23 million tonnes) and hard coal power production (-13 million tonnes)

Transport: 2020 emissions of 146 million tonnes CO2-eq (annual budget 150 million tonnes) | Decrease of 19 million tonnes | 11.4% reduction

Industry: 2020 emissions of 178 million tonnes CO2-eq (annual budget 186 million tonnes) | Decrease of 9 million tonnes | 4.6% reduction

Buildings: 2020 emissions of 120 million tonnes of CO2-eq (annual budget of 118 million tonnes) | Decrease of 3 million tonnes | 2.8% reduction

Agriculture: 2020 emissions of 66 million tonnes of CO2-eq (annual budget of 70 million tonnes) | Decrease of 1.5 million tonnes | 2.2% reduction

Waste: 2020 emissions of 9 million tonnes CO2-eq (annual budget of 9 million tonnes) | Reduction of 3.8%

All areas of the economy reduced their greenhouse gas emissions, with the energy sector leading with a drop of 14.5 percent to 221 million tonnes CO2 equivalents.

In the agricultural sector, greenhouse gas emissions fell by 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents (minus 2.2 percent) to 66 million tonnes, staying within its 2020 budget of 70 million tonnes. The main reasons were declining cattle numbers and dryer weather conditions which led to a reduced use of mineral fertilisers, UBA said. Federal agriculture minister Julia Klöckner said her ministry had delivered on the climate target by promoting state-of-the-art technology, by research and recommendations from its arable farming strategy.

Emissions in transport fell by 11.4 percent to 146 million tonnes CO2-eq, compared to 2019. “In the transport sector the effect of reduced mobility during the corona crisis has a very large effect, everyone in the transport ministry should know this and make sure measures are in place to reach future targets,” Messner said.

Michael Müller-Görnert, transport policy spokesman for mobility association VCD said the federal government must quickly revise its climate protection programme. “The shift aways from combustion engine cars has to be accelerated and the alternatives to owning a car strengthened.” “Instead of new motorways, we should create pop-up cycle paths and make them permanent; instead of company car privileges and distance allowances, we should promote cargo bikes and public transport subscriptions,” he said in an emailed statement.

While emissions in the buildings sector, which mainly come from heating, also fell slightly, it is the only sector which did not reach its target. Germany’s climate law stipulates that the responsible ministry of interior must propose an emergency programme within four months with measures to ensure the targets of the next years will be reached. This automatic response demanding immediate action from every ministry that fails to stay within its assigned emission budget could well be the “game changer” in Germany’s climate policy, Messner said. “It means that every minister is now also a climate minister,” environment minister Schulze said.

Liberal democratic MP Lukas Köhler on the other hand, said this proved “the pointlessness of the sector targets in the Climate Action Law”. “Just because people stayed home more because of corona, the government now has to announce immediate measures in the buildings sector instead of the transport sector,” he wrote on Twitter.
“First time the Council of Experts on Climate Change will spring into action”

Germany adopted its first-ever major climate law at the end of 2019. Thus, 2020 was the first full year for which each economic sector had binding greenhouse gas emission reduction targets under the new legislation. The law also introduced a council of independent researchers to evaluate the emissions data and provide a scientific assessment.

“This is the first time the Council of Experts on Climate Change will spring into action,” Brigitte Knopf, secretary general of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) and one of the council’s five members, told Clean Energy Wire. “We will assess the emissions data published by the Environment Agency and present a report to the German government by mid-April.”

Should a sector not reach its target, the government would be obliged to present an emergency programme of climate action measures. The independent experts then get to assess “the assumptions regarding greenhouse gas emission reduction on which the measures are based,” says the law.

The role of the council was weakened from early drafts of the law to its final version. Originally, it was meant to assess the government’s annual climate action reports, much as the independent Energiewende monitoring commission comments on the annual German energy transition reports.

Decline “one-off effect of the coronavirus crisis”

The drop in emissions is a “one-off effect of the coronavirus crisis” and they will rise again unless the government introduces effective climate policy, said Christiane Averbeck, managing director of Climate-Alliance Germany, a network of 115 organisations including environmental groups, development groups, churches, trade unions and consumer associations. “It is more important than ever that the German government sets the pace in climate protection. Even in an election year.”

Jan Kowalzig, climate expert at Oxfam Germany said that warned that “the usual climate action saboteurs will try to use the new data to argue against more ambitious targets and greater efforts”. “With its current commitment to climate action, Germany is still not making a fair contribution to limiting global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C […] and thus still not preventing catastrophic consequences, especially for the poorer countries of the Global South,” he said.

The Climate-Alliance Germany called on the government to initiate a reform of the climate action law before the national election in September. Germany will head to the ballots to elect a new federal parliament. Since the previous election in 2017, climate and energy have consistently moved up among voter priorities. A string of hot, dry summers that took a toll on the country’s environment have contributed to massive climate protests led by the Fridays for Future movement, which put emissions-reduction efforts at the heart of public debate. With the coal power phase-out and its comprehensive Climate Action Programme 2030, the government of parting Chancellor Angela Merkel also implemented major steps seen as crucial for climate neutrality by the middle of the century. At the same time, issues like reviving renewables expansion, transforming the car industry, green hydrogen production and carbon pricing are all energy transition challenges that continue to split opinions along party lines.

* Like Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.

Via Clean Energy Wire

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By the End of the Year, Germany will have a Million Electric Cars on the Road out of 4.7 mn Total Sat, 27 Feb 2021 05:01:24 +0000 By Sören Amelang | –

Germany will probably reach its target of having one million fully electric or plug-in hybrid cars on the road this year, government advisors have said. The head of the country’s National Platform Future of Mobility (NPM), Henning Kagermann, told business daily Handelsblatt he was pleased “that it appears we will reach the one million mark in e-vehicles this year.” NPM manager Franz Loogen, who heads the platform’s climate division, even forecast that “we will have one million e-cars on the road by the middle of the year.”

In 2010, the government set the electric mobility target for 2020, but the NPM last year postponed it until 2022 given initially sluggish demand. But sales picked up sharply in the second half of the year due to new government incentives, pushing total registrations to almost 600,000 electric cars by the end of the year, according to auto industry association VDA. About half of these were plug-in hybrids, which also count towards the government’s target. Environmental activists criticise the subsidies for plug-in hybrids, because many are rarely driven in electric mode. Germany plans to have seven to ten million electric cars on the roads by 2030.

The NPM recommended in its latest progress report that plug-in hybrids should be equipped with an automatic switch to increase the use of electric propulsion. “Due to the high proportion of internal combustion engine-powered vehicles in the existing fleet and the current positive market development of plug-in hybrid vehicles, CO2 emissions can be reduced through the use of alternative fuels,” the NPM report states.

It also says plug-in hybrids can help preserve car industry jobs during the transition to clean mobility, because they can “spread out the reduction in the workforce over time.” Registrations of new pure electric vehicles recently overtook plug-in hybrids in Germany.

Buyers of pure electric vehicles in Germany get a premium of 9,000 euros, and those opting for a plug-in hybrid 6,750 euros. Drivers installing a charging point at home can receive an additional 900 euros.

Loogen warned the current rise in sales should not yet be considered a breakthrough, and that Germany should not only rely on electric mobility. “We will only lower CO2 emissions in the transport sector if we rapidly scale up all technologies and can sell them in sufficient amounts and at competitive prices. This is true for electric cars, electric buses, but also for synthetic fuels.”

Sören Amelang is a staff Correspondent for Clean Energy Wire. During his 15 years at the news agency Reuters, he wrote about international business, economics and politics. He was lead writer for Reuters’ German coverage of the financial crisis and the ensuing debt crisis in Europe. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Development Studies from Liverpool University and an MA in International Relations from the University of Sussex.

German President envisions Electric Cars as zero carbon ‘Smartphone on Wheels’ Sun, 14 Feb 2021 05:01:05 +0000 By Charlotte Nijhuis | –

Clean Energy Wire / Süddeutsche Zeitung ) – To reach Germany’s climate goals the car industry needs to undergo a significant transformation, German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier said during a summit titled “Industry and climate action using the example of the automotive industry” that he organised in Berlin.

On last Thursday (11 February), the president invited figures from German industry and research to discuss the sustainable mobility transformation and its social and economic consequences. The car of the future must not only be climate-neutral, it also needs to employ smart technology to adapt to people’s needs, becoming a sort of “smartphone on wheels”, Steinmeier said. Research and development will have to remain a high priority for Germany as an industrial location in the coming years, the president added.

However, a structural transformation also poses the risk of job losses. There are supplier companies cutting old jobs in Germany and building up new ones abroad, Jörg Hofmann, chairman of the Metalworkers’ Union (IG Metall) said at the event. He argued there is a “lack of action”, for example in the development of the charging infrastructure, despite the invocation of climate-neutral drives, Süddeutsche Zeitung writes. Ottmar Edenhofer, head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), underlined that technical change, as necessary as it is, could lead to job losses. “Low-income households must therefore be taken care of in this transformation,” he said.

Climate protection should not divide society into winners and losers, Siegfried Russwurm, head of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) said. “In Germany, too, there are yellow vests in every car,” Russwurm said, alluding to the yellow-vest movement in France of people who feel left behind by climate policy that shows little consideration for low-income earners.

The German car industry has committed to climate-neutral mobility by 2050, but some companies reject a sole focus on electric mobility and argue that a combination of efficient combustion engines and synthetic fuels are also key to achieving climate targets.

The take-up of electric vehicles has been slow in Germany in comparison to many other markets, but in 2020 the number of newly registered e-cars rose significantly. While the country’s major carmakers focus heavily on electric mobility, its large supplier industry often pursues alternative technologies, especially hydrogen fuel cells and synthetic fuels made on the basis of renewable hydrogen.


Bonus video added by Informed Comment:

Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI): “Germany’s Drive Toward Electric Vehicles”

In Turnaround, New Onshore Wind jumps 50% in Germany adding 1.4 Gigs; Sector generates 20% of country’s Electricity Sat, 30 Jan 2021 05:01:58 +0000 By Kerstine Appunn Benjamin Wehrmann | –

( Clean Energy Wire ) – Onshore wind power – the cornerstone of Germany’s decarbonisation plans – has suffered from chronically low additional installations in the past years. The industry seems to have achieved a turnaround in 2020, connecting almost 50 percent more turbines to the grid than in the year before, but lobby groups warn that new construction still fails to match climate targets and rising green power demand. Making better use of existing locations through modernisation and a clear target on how much capacity is needed by 2030 are crucial steps to ensure that national and EU energy transition ambitions can be fulfilled, industry lobby groups cautioned . . .

The expansion of onshore wind power in Germany has seen a long-awaited boost in 2020 but still lags far behind the levels required to meet the country’s ambitious renewable power targets, according to latest wind power industry figures. Although expansion surged by 46 percent compared to the year before, the installation of 420 new turbines with 1.4 gigawatts (GW) capacity was still far too low given that onshore wind power is the most important technology Germany plans to use to bring its renewable power share to at least 65 percent by the end of the decade, up from around 45 percent last year, industry associations BWE and VDMA said.

Given that 203 old and smaller turbines were removed last year, net expansion stood at only 217 new installations, adding a capacity of 1.2 GW to Germany’s now total 55 GW onshore wind power stock. Matthias Zelinger of engineering association VDMA Power Systems said the lowest point in expansion levels seems to have been passed. “There’s a clear signal we are moving back up again. And this should be particularly noted during a year dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, which is testament to the industry’s resilience,” Zehlinger said. While Germany contributed only a small fraction to the 82 GW in global onshore wind growth, after being the biggest market for several years, its home market would at least be “back to the table” now, he added.

Onshore wind power provided about 20 percent of Germany’s gross power production in 2020, the biggest share of all power sources. The industry says it directly sustains about 100,000 jobs in the country and generates a turnover of 15 billion euros per year. Difficult licensing procedures due to red tape, environmental considerations and protests by local residents all have contributed to bring expansion to the lowest level in 20 years in 2019. This came as Germany’s parallel coal and nuclear phase-out, and plans to boost e-mobility and green hydrogen production, make abundant renewable power sources increasingly necessary.

The industry groups said a lack of permits and construction area continued to be among the main obstacles to new turbine construction, urging a better coordination between the federal government and the states to streamline and lift regulatory hurdles. About a third of auction volumes were undersubscribed in 2020, which still marked an improvement compared to the previous year, when half of all available capacity didn’t find investors. Uncertainty about their projects’ timely implementation due to sluggish licensing is seen as a main reason investors have shied away in the past years.

“Important to act even in election year”

In total, 3.3 GW received a permit in 2020, a strong gain compared to 1.9 GW in 2019. The lobby groups said the latest reform of Germany’s Renewable Energy Act (EEG) was a cause for optimism in the election year 2021, and stressed that a better repowering strategy is needed to prolong and enhance the use of existing wind farm locations.

Hermann Albers of the BWE, said the clear goal was to make sure auctioned volumes are all used. But rising deconstruction projections for older turbines, up to 14 GW capacity by 2025 according to industry estimates, meant that repowering measures had to be made a focus quickly. This would allow for the generation of higher yields at lower cost without using any new land area for construction, although new turbines are usually significantly bigger than the models they replace. “It’s important we act here even in an election year,” Albers warned. As more and more installations are set to go offline, net expansion figures would become ever more important, he added.

An analysis by the Climate Neutrality Foundation found that three major hurdles are prohibiting further and faster wind power expansion: the lack of land where wind turbines are allowed to be built, the unsolved conflict between climate action and species protection, and an overly complicated application procedure for project developers. To alleviate the first issue, the foundation suggests a change to Germany’s Federal Building Code that would obligate every municipality to give a minimum share of their land to wind power installations. With this – and by adjusting for the different municipalities’ locations and suitable space – Germany could use two percent of its total federal land area for onshore wind power, a share that would be required to reach the country’s need for renewable electricity if it wants to achieve climate neutrality, the foundation said.

Land available for onshore wind in German municipalities: Yellow = low availability, purple = very high availability. Source: Climate Neutrality Foundation.

For 2021, the industry expects new installations will total up to 2.5 GW, but about 5 to 6 GW per year would be necessary to get on track towards the 2030 target and meet rising green power demand by companies seeking to decarbonise their business. The government has not yet come to a conclusion about what the projected total capacity at the end of the decade should be. Estimates range between 71 GW from the economy ministry to 95 GW by the environment ministry, with the latter more likely to account for the EU’s latest tightening of emissions reduction targets, the groups said. The Green Party’s Julia Verlinden said in an e-mailed statement that the still low expansion volume last year was a clear political failure which the EEG did not sufficiently address. She said her party would advocate for reaching at least 5 GW expansion annually.

NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH) published a paper laying out what it sees as the “seven biggest problems” for renewables expansion under the reformed EEG. Among them are insufficient expansion plans over this decade, too little stimulus for citizens’ energy projects, and the fact that financial participation by local residents and communities is not mandatory.

“Our analysis shows: glaring errors in the EEG are responsible for the sluggish expansion,” said DUH managing director Sascha Müller-Kraenner. If the Renewable Energy Act were a house, it would be in danger of collapsing due to so many technical deficiencies.”

Featured Photo: Inside of a wind turbine tower in Germany. Photo: CLEW/Wehrmann.

Via Clean Energy Wire