Tag: Germany

Well done Germany, what about coal?

ECO was delighted to hear that Germany has decided to stop export credit guarantees for nuclear installations abroad. Well done to our hosts – but here’s our first question: why did it take 13 years to draw the logical consequence from the 2001 decision to phase-out nuclear power? Only three years ago, the conservative-liberal government tried to mobilise another €1.3 billion export guarantee for Areva to build the Angra-3 nuclear reactor in Brazil. Only a strong refusal by Parliament and civil society stopped this crazy plan.

Today, Germany has become the country of the Energiewende, and wants to be seen as the front-runner in clean energy. Renewable energy is speeding up and it has already reached a 27% share of electricity. Renewable energy is seen as the backbone of Germany’s efforts to reach its national GHG reduction targets of 40% by 2020 and 55% by 2030.  Energy efficiency also needs a similar emphasis.

So, dear German government, if you have decided that renewables are the way to go, here is ECO’s second question: Why are you stopping export guarantees for nuclear, but still giving export credits to coal power plants all over the planet?

Between 2007 and 2013, developed countries collectively provided US$36 billion to coal through their national export credit agencies. With export credits worth nearly $3 billion, Germany places third in this dirty league table. The state-owned development bank KfW is the driver of such coal support.

The US, UK, Netherlands and several Nordic countries, as well as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank have decided to end or strictly limit their support for coal overseas. Meanwhile, KfW continues to give credits to coal power plants and infrastructure worldwide, to the tune of at least €2 billion. This means that high emission infrastructure is locked in for decades, undermining the goal to decarbonise energy supply as fast as possible.

In October 2013, the OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría asked “every government” to question domestic and overseas support for coal. The UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in September in New York is the perfect moment for Germany and other developed countries to announce the end of their support for coal power plants and fossil fuel infrastructure. Germany should not wait another 13 years to draw conclusions that can help to save the planet.

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Climate Help Wanted: Germany

Germany is in the middle of difficult coalition talks following the September elections. Climate policy is one of the areas where there still is no agreement.

The negotiations in Warsaw would really benefit from a bit of leadership from developed countries, and in particular the EU. But EU leadership is hard to mobilize without full engagement of the EU's largest economy. That's why this morning, around 80 NGOs from all over the world are sending an open letter to politicians involved in the coalition negotiations in Berlin, reminding them that Germany must show true climate leadership.

The letter reminds German political leaders of the devastating impacts of Super Typhoon Haiyan and other extreme weather events that should serve as a wake-up call for urgent climate action. It also acknowledges the success of Germany's Energiewende, the country's ambitious plan to increase renewable energy and energy efficiency. But the letter notes that ‘to ensure the Energiewende's continued success and create a new dynamic at the international level’, Germany now needs to ‘set a strong and ambitious framework domestically and at the European Union (EU) level’.

The letter continues: ‘In March of next year, EU heads of state and government will decide on 2030 climate and energy targets. We expect you to support the necessary targets to ensure the EU makes a fair contribution to keeping temperature rise below 2°C while keeping 1.5°C within reach. What is needed is an EU target of at least 55% domestic emissions reductions compared to 1990 levels by 2030 combined with ambitious and binding renewable energy and energy consumption targets. A target of 40% would fall short of EU’s fair share of the global effort, and could in practice mean only 33% actual domestic emission cuts by 2030, due to the amount of surplus allowances in the system. An ambitious 2030 target should be the basis for the needed structural reform of the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) and an adjusted climate target for 2020’.

The letter reminds German leaders that we need a strong signal to increase budget expenditures for promised climate change adaptation and mitigation until 2020, and that a binding domestic climate law could provide certainty to investors, enable a smooth transition domestically, and also build trust and credibility internationally.

The letter concludes: "We need countries which inspire the global transformation of our energy systems. Germany could and should do this. The world is watching you." 

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All eyes on Germany as incoming government mulls EU climate targets

Open letter from global civil society calls on German party leaders to harness Energiewende spirit 

Warsaw, Tuesday November 19, 2013: Warsaw, Tuesday November 19, 2013: Civil society organisations gathered in Warsaw for the United Nations climate conference (COP19) today sent letters to German Chancellor and CDU party leader Angela Merkel, SPD party leader Sigmar Gabriel and CSU leader Horst Seehofer, who are in the middle of negotiations to form a coalition government for Germany.

85 groups and networks, representing citizens from around the world, are concerned that the coalition negotiations will result in weak climate targets. Given Germany’s key role in the EU, this would send a bad signal for the bloc’s impending decisions on 2030 climate and clean energy targets. European Heads of States are scheduled to address the issue in March 2013.

“As representatives of worldwide civil society, we are writing this letter from Warsaw today to urge you to show true leadership on climate policy”, said the letter, applauding Germany’s inspiring example of Energiewende.

Groups are urging the coalition negotiators to support European climate targets that would make a fair and adequate contribution to the global efforts of preventing catastrophic climate change, while putting the EU on track to become a climate friendly economy. 

A domestic EU reduction in carbon pollution of at least 55% by 2030 below 1990 levels is needed. This must be combined with ambitious and binding renewable energy and energy consumption targets. The 40% target, which is currently being floated in the coalition talks, is completely inadequate, and could imply only 33% domestic cuts, due to all the extra emission allowances in the EU emission trading scheme. By comparison, the conservative-led UK government is advocating for a target of 50% by 2030. As for action on national level, the letter calls for a climate change act that uses binding climate and energy targets of the Energiewende as a framework for innovation. 

Ten days ago, the Philippines was hit with one of the world’s worst typhoons in recorded history, killing thousands, injuring many thousands more and displacing 4 million people. It was a grim reminder of the “weather on steroids” that climate change is causing. And it’s not just the Philippines.

“The emission gap is growing and growing while people in Kenya suffer from drought-caused decreasing agricultural yields every year. Please don't wait any longer and agree to the emission cuts necessary”, says ACT Alliance spokesman Votumniko Chinoko, Kenya

“If there are no drastic emission cuts, climate consequences look devastating for Latin America,” says Ariel Chavez from Diaconia Bolivia.

 “The people in Bangladesh are being forced to shoulder huge economic and social costs caused by climate change. To me it is an injustice when mitigation measures are continuously delayed and watered down”, says Mr Shamsuddoha from Center for Participatory Research and Development in Bangladesh.

“We need countries, which inspire the global transformation of our energy systems. Germany could and should do this. The world is watching you,” the letter concludes.


Please contact Ria Voorhaar, Climate Action Network International communications coordinator at rvoorhaar@climatenetwork.org, or +49 157 317 355 68 for more information or interviews with Climate Action Network – International director Wael Hmaidan.

For the full list of signatories, see the letter, attached.


PDF icon germany_letter_v3_merkel.pdf62.63 KB

Historic Landmark in German Energy Policy

ECO clearly missed a presentation by Germany in Thursday’s workshop on developed country mitigation. Germany could have taken the opportunity to present its package of wide reaching energy and infrastructure legislative proposals, presented this Monday, as a response to the nuclear disaster in Fukushima.

While these negotiations rarely deal with nuclear energy, delegates would surely have been intrigued to witness what could become a historical turn in energy policy taking place in a leading industrial country. One that, if planned and executed carefully, could become a development! model for many other countries struggling with their dependence on increasingly expensive, climate change causing fossil fuels or nuclear energy with its risks and dirty and dangerous legacy. Because, ECO notes, the government has confirmed that phasing out nuclear energy will not alter the country’s resolve to cut itsgreenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2020 and by 80-95% by 2050. Not replacing the nuclear threat with a new climate threat is ambitious, but possible, as numerous experts from all sides have confirmed. ECO hopes that dirty industry and its buddies in government aren’t going to screw it up.

The most prominent piece is the accelerated phase out of nuclear power plants, with the 8 oldest plants not going online anymore at all, and the remaining ones shutting down one by one more gradually until 2022. Earlier phase out, such as in 2017, would have been possible, but nonetheless the legislative proposals, which have now been presented to the German Parliament represent a significant shift.

The renewable energy act is confirming the principles of a long-term guaranteed feed in tariff and grid priority for renewable electricity. ECO has learned that this means the ambition to meet 35% of German power demand from renewable electricity by 2020 is therefore not a cap, but a minimum floor, from which to build beyond 2020. The dynamic development of renewable energies in Germany is a result of that policy.

The grid infrastructure laws are attempting the ambitious goal of increasing public participation and acceptance while reducing the length of the permitting procedures. Most proposals are sound but it remains to be seen how successfully they can be implemented.

The laws on energy efficiency could be much more ambitious and goals more binding. However, the conservative liberal coalition in Germany has set up a multi- billion support programme for efficiency measures, e.g. in the building sector.

All these proposals are slowly but surely exploring the practical possibility for a paradigm change in the systems of electricity generation, distribution and consumption.

Some industry lobbyists are, together with the four big utilities, warning that a “deindustrialization of Germany” is imminent. However, the overwhelming majority of studies show that a whole new industry – with substantial positive growth and labor market impacts – is emerging. The economic benefits of such a transformation will hopefully be understood by other sectors (e.g. transport) as a signal that the chances and rewards associated with such transition to a low carbon future are tremendous.

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China and Germany Climate Policies Draw Clean Energy Investment at Expense of U.S.

In his most recent State of the Union address, President Obama introduced the idea of “winning the future” to the American public. ECO welcomes this race, and humbly suggests a focus on climate policies could help him achieve this seemingly paradoxical goal. To win the race, the U.S. will need to actually join it. A recent Pew and Bloomberg New Energy Finance report shows that the U.S. has slipped down to number three in private investment in clean energy development, such as small-scale solar installations, launching Germany into the number two spot.  Until 2008, the U.S. had held the top spot, a spot now firmly held by China. Globally, 2010 clean energy finance and investments grew by 30 percent to a record $243 billion.

Why is the U.S. competitive position ‘deteriorating’, ECO wonders?

The report concludes that climate policies matter to investors.  Pew’s Clean Energy Program Director attributed the decline in investments in the U.S. to a ‘weak and uncertain’ policy framework. China, Germany and India are rising in investment rankings because they have adopted policies such as renewable energy standards, carbon reduction targets and/or incentives for investment and production.

In the race to win the future, the US seems to be running with its shoes untied.

The report – Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? 2010 edition – is the second annual compilation of clean energy investments (which includes renewables and energy efficiency). Last year’s reportmade big waves in the U.S. when it announced that China had taken over the lead.Now the gap has widened and the US is falling even lower down the rankings.

ECO has to wonder when U.S. elected officials will wake up to that fact that the real ‘job killer’ is not carbon regulation.  It is the failure to join the rest of the world in the race to the new energy future


Presentation - Building on Kyoto - Dec 2004

While the Kyoto Protocol is not yet in force (due to the unilateral declaration by the George W. Bush Administration of the United States that it would not follow the Kyoto Protocol, as well as delay in Russiaís ratification of it) already many difficulties have been overcome, with deailed operational rules for the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol having been agreed upon at the Seventh Conference of the Parties (COP7), and more than 120 countries having ratified it.  This indicates that the large majority of the countries and people of the world are strongly in support of the Kyoto Protocol as the only international system of rules that could allow us to confront global warming.

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