A New Government For Germany – Preliminary Energy and Climate Plans Published

In September 2017 Germany held general elections, but there still is no new government yet. After talks between the Conservatives (CDU/CSU), the Liberals (FDP) and the Greens broke down last year, Angela Merkel is trying to form a governmental `grand coalition´ between CDU/CSU and the Social Democrats (SPD). Both parties recently ended exploratory negotiations and issued a joint statement on 12 January 2018 that gives a first indication of Germany´s policy plans for the next 4 years. Although the paper is not yet a full-fledged coalition agreement, it nonetheless details the main policy lines that the possible new German government is intending to follow. So what does it have to say on energy and the climate ?

 Although the paper is stating that the parties are still backing the climate aims for 2020, 2030 and 2050, it also says that the government wants to ´reach the reduction goal of 2030 in any case`. Prior to the publication of the paper, media reports suggested that the government already decided to drop the greenhouse gas reduction goals for 2020. The paper now confirms these reports. This is a particular `hot` topic for the new government, given that the same parties (CDU, CSU and SPD) and largely the same people formed the last German government that was supposed to implement measures to reach the climate goals for 2020.

The new government-in-waiting, however, wants to ensure that the 2030 goals are reached by implementing a new commission that shall elaborate a `plan of action´. Tasks include organizing the final phase out of coal for electricity production in Germany. The commission shall also elaborate and issue a final end date for the use of coal in the German energy sector. The commission shall consist of policy actors as well as stakeholders from the German economy, the unions, NGOs and federal states and regions.

The Energiewende shall be further accelerated. Until 2030 Renewables shall deliver about 65 per cent of German energy.  In order to reach this aim, the parties are pledging to tender an additional 4 Gigawatt of onshore wind and 4 Gigawatt of photovoltaics in 2019-2020. Besides this concrete goal, the paper includes a number of abstract statements about `further efforts´ to improve electricity grids in Germany, to facilitate sector-coupling and energy storage as well as the aim to improve cogeneration.

Overall, the section on energy and climate in the paper appears uninspired. The main issues have been postponed and/or outsourced to a commission that has yet to be created. Germany is unlikely to reach its climate goals for 2020, but the government in waiting cannot agree on measures to tackle this.  The big issue of German energy and climate policy over the last ten years is that Germany partly compensated for the electricity lacking after the shut-down of all nuclear facilities in Germany by ramping-up electricity production from (polluting) coal. This has not been tackled and the possible new government postponed decisions on this.
The full paper (German language version only) is available here.


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