Two weeks ago German newspaper ZEIT expressed suspicions that the German economics minister Sigmar Gabriel might be about to bury Germany’s climate targets. Only recently, he had spoken out against “de-carbonating” due to the incompatibility with denuclearization, higher electric bills, workplaces and the subsequent need to import energy. Then SPIEGEL and Reuters informed their readers that Gabriel was in fact planning the exact opposite, i.e. that he wanted to force electricity suppliers to reduce the emissions of their coal-fired power stations. He had indeed met with company representatives and now it’s official: On Wednesday Gabriel and the German environment minister Barbara Hendricks presented a brand new climate protection package, containing a program of action, and a so called “climate-efficiency-plan” – which contains guidelines for various industries to achieve CO2-reductions. How did all of this happen so fast?
Well, according to SPIEGEL the government fears it won’t be able to fulfill its climate targets of reducing carbon emissions by 40% by 2020. Thus polluters must obey new binding rules.
The “Nationaler Aktionsplan Energieeffizienz“ (national action plan for energy efficiency) wants to establish three major measures (the original report in German can be found here):
1. Introducing new competitive announcements to push energy efficiency on the market.
2. Increasing subsidies for building renovation and providing tax incentives for measures designed to increase energy efficiency in buildings. As these incentives are to be provided by both the government and the federal states this step still needs to be discussed.
3. Creating networks between government, industry and commerce for energy efficiency.
Hendricks is positive concerning this new package. It would help reduce CO2-emissions by up to 78 million tons by 2020. That is more than twice the amount that can be achieved by current measures. This number is based on the estimated CO2 savings in several industries: 30 million tons of CO2 through energy efficiency in the building sector, ten million in transport, 3.6 million in agriculture and three million by planned waste management (recycling, avoidance of waste, resource efficiency). The earlier mentioned “capping” of emissions of coal-fired power stations ought to prevent 22 million tons of CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere – however, the energy providers will obtain the right to choose how they will achieve this reduction.
Apart from the last point, the efficiency plan focuses on endorsing energy efficient measures rather than genuinely decreasing GHG-emissions where it really hurts. Still, Greenpeace Germany is quite happy with the announced goals, according to a notification on their website. But the NGO criticizes that none of the announced measures are concrete –the steps must still be put into practice and it is well known how long such processes can take.
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