As Germany’s new coalition government — comprising center-left Social Democrats (SPD), environmentalist Greens and the business-focused Free Democrat Party (FDP) — readies to take power, it has made bold climate policy the cornerstone of the alliance.
This week, the parties reached an agreement. It contains climate measures that will keep Germany on the path of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit). Robert Habeck, co-chair of the Green Party and Germany’s next vice chancellor, was promised.
These measures include phasing out coal power by 2030, eight years ahead of the current schedule, powering 80% of the electricity grid with renewables within a decade and putting 15 million electric vehicles on German roads by 2030. The deal also proposes phasing out gas for power by 2040 and setting a minimum carbon price of €60 per ton ($68).
Habeck will be the head of the new Climate and Economy Ministry. This ministry will provide the bureaucratic power to implement these ambitious measures.
A ‘world-beating’ climate deal
In the wake of the disappointment over the COP26 climate pact’s watering down of a coal exit, environment groups and climate analysts initially welcomed the broad thrust of Germany’s new climate measures.
“The text provides important impetus to climate policy and conservation,” wrote environment NGO Friends of the Earth Germany in a Statement. “We expressly appreciate this progress relative to the previous government,” they added. Still, they cautioned that the climate goals would not ensure a pathway to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Charles Moore, from London-based energy and climate think tank, Ember, said that scaling up renewables to power 80% of Germany’s energy grid by 2030 is a “really bold commitment” — especially when coupled with the promise to put millions of electric cars on the road by the end of the decade.
He stated, “It is a vote for confidence in our electric tomorrow and the decarbonization our energy system.” It’s world-beating, there is a feeling.
Moore was involved in the development of a 2020 ReportThe failure of Germany’s energy transition is due to its heavy dependence on coal. The new climate agenda has made him even more optimistic. The rapid scaling up of clean wind and solar energy combined with a minimum carbon price of €60 ($68) will “finish coal by 2030,” he said.
He said that his worries about Germany’s coal are greatly diminished after the announcement of the coalition. He also stated that he believes the Climate Deal is in accordance with the International Energy Agency. PrescriptionIncreased renewable capacity is the fastest, most cost-effective and efficient way to reduce greenhouse gases emissions.
Are 1.5 degree commitments enough?
Some coalition politicians believe that the policies they have agreed to will place Germany on the path towards 1.5 degrees Celsius, while others are less certain. Friends of the Earth Germany said it “views this with great skepticism,” due in part to the lack of specific “annual expansion paths” for onshore wind and solar. It added that the climate neutrality date of 2045 “is too late for 1.5 degrees.”
Fridays for Future climate activists had demanded that a 1.5-degree commitment is central to German coalition government negotiations. However, they were also disappointed by the result.
“Measured against the failure of the grand coalition, we are seeing progress,” wrote Fridays for Future Germany, referring to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government in its Analysenew climate measures. This government program does not meet the realities of climate change.
There is also concern that the 2030 coal phaseout commitment is non-binding — the word “ideally” was inserted into the pronouncement — and that the phaseout date signals an attempt to transition from oil and coal with “the next fossil climate killer.” Natural gas has controversially been touted as a “cleaner” bridging fuel as green energy sources, like solar and wind, are ramped up. Fridays For Future said that it would be 10 years late to keep a 1.5 degree pathway.
“The coalition wants to build new gas power plants and claims that gas is critically necessary for the transition,” said Deborah Ramalope from Climate Analytics, a global climate change research institution. “This is false and could lead to deep fossil fuel lock ins.”
Ramalope is an environmental scientist who is concerned that the language used to phase out coal is too vague. He also believes it “is not a commitment”.
According to an article, she stated that a coal phaseout would benefit the decarbonization of power sector. AnalyseClimate Analytics. Their modeling also showed that Germany could increase its share of renewables in the energy mix from the 80% promised by the coalition to nearly 90% by 2030.
Ramalope explained that a target of 65% emission reductions by 2030 below 1990 levels is “close,” but not 1.5C compatible. She said that around 70% would be required.
Coalition ‘needs to deliver’
Charles Moore, Ember’s representative on the coal industry, said that Germany missed an opportunity to send a stronger message about coal to the world by not committing to “ideally” eliminating coal by 2030.
Analysts say that both the coal- and gas-based climate measures are still feasible.
“A German power 2030 coal/40 gas phaseout is both extremely possible,” tweeted Oslo-based climate analyst, authorKetan Joshi.
The coalition is setting Germany on the path to what the International Energy Agency calls “a clean, dynamic and resilient energy economy dominated by renewables.”
“Now they need to deliver,” said Ramalope.
Edited by: Jennifer Collins