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Showing posts from 2019

New Publication: The `Trias` - A New Methodology For Energy Law

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A new article has been published in the journal European Energy and Environmental Law Review  (Ruven Fleming `The `Trias`- A New Methodology For Energy Law` (October 2019) Volume 28 Number 5 European Energy and Environmental Law Review pages 2 - 13).

The abstract can be found below and the article will become available online here.

Climate Case Urgenda Reloaded? - Not In Germany (VG Berlin No 37/2019) Case Comment

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Yesterday the administrative court of Berlin rejected a climate case brought by three German organic farmers and their families together with Greenpeace. According to the claimants the court should rule that the German government is not doing enough to meet its own climate targets. Germany is highly likely to miss its aim of reducing Co2 emissions by 40 % in 2020, compared to 1990 levels. That aim was spelled out in a cabinet decision of the German government (inter alia, page 4 of its 2010 energy concept), but never made it into actual law. The claimants argued that, precisely because of the fact that a climate law was lacking in Germany by that time, this political decision of the government acquired legally binding status, as opposed to a pure political ´good will´ obligation. The case, in trying to compel a government to make good on its own climate action promises, somewhat resembles the infamous Urgenda case (discussed earlier on this blog), but there are significant difference…

EU-MERCOSUR Trade Deal In Peril

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The ´largest trade agreement the EU has ever concluded´ (Jean Claude Juncker) is again in peril. While the EU-MERCOSUR deal was agreed by the end of June 2019, a growing number of EU Member States are wary about ratification of the deal. The free trade deal came under intensified scrutiny in summer because of the wild fires in the Brazilian Amazonas region in the context of land clearance and the initial refusal of the Bolsonaro government to acknowledge the issue.

Poland: The New Battleground For Climate Litigation

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A string of climate law suits has been launched in Poland. Several legal actions against coal fired power plants in the country are putting Europe`s biggest producer of coal into the spotlight. By the end of September the NGO Client Earth started legal action against the company running Poland`s biggest coal fired power plant `Bełchatów´, which is well known for burning polluting lignite coal. But there are also other interesting cases.

New Climate Package in Germany - Can it Deliver?

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Today a new climate package has been released in Germany. In the build-up to the event all major politicians of the country called this the `make-or-break` point of German climate policy. For years Germany failed to meet its climate objectives and is sure to miss its greenhouse gas emission targets for 2020. Especially the transport and the heating sectors do not deliver. So which implementation measures to reach Germany`s climate goals are envisaged? And why took more than 1 million people in Germany to the streets (`climate strike`) in protest?

Onshore Wind Faces Severe Crisis In Germany

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35 new windmills have so far been build in Germany in 2019. Only 6 years ago, in 2012, there were more than 1000 new windmills per year. The onshore wind sector is the most prominent example of a flatlining energy transition and a severe renewable energy crisis, in a country that not long ago took much pride in giving the word `Energiewende´ to the world. A `Wind Summit´ of the German government now tried to revive the sector, but no discernible progress has been made. Windmill producers are criticizing a lack of legal certainty, but also say that `sweet spots´are already taken and NIMBY attitudes are on the rise.

German Fracking Commission Issued First Report

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The German `expert commission´, installed to monitor developments concerning fracking in Germany, recently issued its first annual report. So called ´unconventional fracking´ for oil and gas (fracking layers of shale-, argillite and marlstone rock strata, as well as in coal seams) is prohibited in Germany, whereas so called `conventional fracking´ (in sandstone at great depths) is allowed. By 2021 the German parliament will have to re-asses the prohibition of ´unconventional fracking´. Until then the `expert commission´, established in 2018, shall monitor the situation. In its now issued first report the commission states that no exceptional application for scientific research related to unconventional fracking trials has been made.

Summer Break

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The energy and climate law blog is on summer break. Enjoy the sun and recharge batteries! The blog returns with new analyses on energy and climate law developments by the end of August. Many thanks for your support and have a good summer time!

Dutch Cabinet Presents `Climate Accord´

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After 2 years of societal discussion the Dutch `Climate Accord´ (Klimaatakkoord), which had been released by the end of 2018, has been accepted by the Dutch government. The key point of the plan is the aim to reduce Co2 emissions to almost zero by 2050, compared to 1990 levels. The `Climate Accord´consist of hundreds of measures. The 3 most important ones will be outlined in this post. The final document can be found here (Dutch language version only).

Fundamentals of EU Energy Law Amended - `Clean Energy For All Europeans´ Package

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On 14 June 2019 the last parts of the `Clean Energy For All Europeans´- package have been published in the Official Journal of the EU and went into force. Based on Commission proposals published in November 2016, the clean energy for all Europeans package has now been published in full. After political agreement by the Council and the European Parliament in 2018 and early 2019, enabling all of the new rules to be in force by mid-2019, EU countries have 1-2 years to transpose the new directives into national law.

European General Court Dismisses `People`s Climate Case´

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On 22 May the European General Court reportedly dismissed a prominent climate case brought by  10 families from Portugal, Germany, France, Italy, Romania, Kenya, Fiji and the Swedish Saami Youth Association Sáminuorra, who claimed that the EU`s  2030 climate goals are not ambitious enough. They claimed that the EU fails to protect their fundamental rights of life, health, occupation and property. The case resembles the Dutch Urgenda case that has been discussed earlier in this blog. The General Court dismissed the case on formal grounds, rather than on the merits. The criterion of `direct and individual concern´ for citizens proved to be the crucial hurdle in the case. Plaintiffs pledged to appeal in front of the highest EU Court, the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Iran - US Conflict Gets Out Of Hand - A Law Guide to Sanctions

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Following the further re-installment of sanctions that has been announced by the US administration, Iran decided on 8 May to leave parts of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly referred to as `Iran Nuclear Deal` of 2015, in case the EU would not shield Iran against renewed US sanctions within 60 days. The withdrawal is the last step in a downwards-spiral of renewed confrontation that started 2 years ago, but the roots of which are much older. We shed light on the legal history of the conflict.

European Parliament Cleaning the Transport Sector

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In March and April 2019 the European Parliament seized the legislative initiative to clean the transport sector. In a series of decisions, binding quotas concerning emissions in the transport sector have been resolved. While the parliament decided already in March that exhaust gas limits of passenger vehicles need to be cut by 37.5 % in 2030 compared to 2021 levels, the Parliament now

Important State Aid Decision: European Court of Justice Upheld Germany`s Renewable Energy Law - Case Comment C-405/16 P Germany v Commission

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The Court of Justice today annulled earlier decisions of the European Commission and of the General Court, which ruled that the German Renewable Energy Law (EEG) constitutes state aid. Today´s ruling exonerates Germany from all charges of wrongful practices under EU state aid rules. The case reaches beyond energy law and opens the door towards a new definition of state aid. The ruling allows for more flexibility of Member States when designing energy law frameworks.

New EU Energy Efficiency Labels Are Coming - But Do They Solve The Problem?

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The European Commission yesterday agreed to act upon energy efficiency of household appliances, making good on one of their promises in the `Energy Union`-strategy to boost energy efficiency. As of 1 March 2021 new energy labels will be introduced, in case the European Parliament and the European Council of Ministers do not object. While the decision changes the categories of energy
appliances, it does little in resolving the differences between labeling systems in the US and the EU.

RWE - E.ON Deal Partly Approved By European Commission

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The European Commission has approved the acquisition by RWE of E.ON's renewable and nuclear electricity generation assets under the EU Merger Regulation. The Commission concluded that the transaction would raise no competition concerns in the European Economic Area. Both companies announced plans to re-structure the German electricity market in early 2018, as reported earlier on this blog. The transaction was notified to the Commission on 22 January 2019 and partly approved yesterday. However, this approval only applies to the assets that RWE is purchasing from Eon. The part that of the deal raising more competition law issues is the transfer of assets to Eon. This part of the deal is being assessed separately by the Commission and is still under review.

Nord Stream 2 - France and Germany Reach Compromise on Amendments to EU Gas Directive

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The European Council was scheduled to vote today in favour of planned amendments to the EU Gas Directive, that would effectively target the Nord Stream 2 project. While countries like Germany, but also the Netherlands and Cyprus pledged to vote against the amendments proposed by the Commission, France, in a surprise last-minute U-turn, pledged to vote in favour of the amendments. Last night, however, France and Germany reached a compromise on the issue. We take a look at the legislative history, as well as providing a legal analysis of events and discuss the legal ramifications of today´s important decision.

Germany`s Coal Phase Out 2038

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Last weekend the German government`s commission on `growth, structural transformation and employment`, colloquially referred to as `coal commission`, published its recommendations on Germany`s coal phase out. They recommend to phase out electricity production from coal by 2038 in Germany, a contry that relies for a quarter of its electricity production on coal. The compromise is not legally binding, but the German government pledged to `constructively assess` the findings of the commission and to act accordingly. Questions about the compatibility of this new plan with German climate goals raised.

30th European Energy Law Seminar

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The 30th European Energy Law Seminar will take place on 21 and 22 January 2019 in Hampshire Hotel Babylon in The Hague (Netherlands). The programme and all further details are available here. Registration is possible via the website of the Dutch Energy Law Association www.never.nl.