Among environmentalists, hopes have been running high for Germany’s new government. The election in September saw growing concerns about climate change. This is the 500th worst flood to affect the nation.The German Greens have doubled their number of parliamentary seats thanks to.
Though the Greens’ performance wasn’t enough to win them the chancellorship, it gave them significant clout in coalition negotiationsThey promised that they would use it to implement parts of their extreme climate action plan.
They have delivered—partly. They have delivered–partly.. The deal contains a raft of measures to slash Germany’s greenhouse emissions, which remain high compared to many European neighbours because of its heavily industrial economy and greater reliance on coal.
These measures also include an obligation to Massive expansion of renewable energy sources, transferring 2% national territory to this cause. A target to eliminate coal entirely by 2030; eight years sooner than originally planned. And a plan for leveraging foreign policy to promote climate change.
The Greens were granted the power to nominate the foreign minister. This will be the party’s co-leader. Annalena Baerbock was a former candidate as chancellor, and the head of a “super ministry” for the economy and climate protection, which will be her co-leader Robert Habeck. The ministers of agriculture and conservation will be chosen by them. “We are in charge of all key energy and climate ministries,” says Sven Giegold, a Green member of the European parliament, who was on the party’s core coalition negotiating team, “and we have a whole roadmap for a post-fossil future based on renewable energy.”
But some climate campaigners said they were frustrated by a lack of clarity on the timeline for Germany’s promised phase-out of fossil fuels. Many had hoped that the agreement would establish an end date. Natural gas use, a fossil fuel that Germany and other European countries are increasingly using as a “bridge fuel” to reduce reliance on more-pollutingIn the short-term, coal and oil The European Environmental Bureau, a network of activist groups and NGOs, called the gas commitments “highly disappointing” and “a missed chance for Germany to give clear indications” to energy markets.
Gielgold stated that the government’s new focus is on increasing renewables and supporting technologies faster than fossil fuels so they can be replaced. He does not specify when these fuels may leave Europe or Germany. “Honestly, it’s not the phasing out, but the phasing in, which will inspire others to act,” he said.
Here are the four key points in the German coalition’s plan on climate, and how they could affect the rest of the world:
Expanding renewable power
The coalition pledged to make the expansion of renewable energies “a central project” of its government. By 2030, the agreement says, 80% of Germany’s power generation will come from renewables—up from around 40% today. Experts say the target is comparable to the U.K.’s goal of reaching net zero on electricity generation by 2035, and the U.S.’ of hitting “100% carbon pollution-free electricity” by 2035.
To achieve it, the government plans to increase Germany’s solar capacity five-fold to 200GW, and off-shore wind more than four-fold to 40GW by 2030, With a mandate for faster designation of land to be used as onshore wind power. The agreement also calls for a costly overhaul of Germany’s electricity grid These are geared towards wind, solar and hydrogen.
Germany’s renewables push could be decisive for the rest of the E.U., restoring faltering cooperation on offshore wind and pressuring others to ramp up national spending in line with the bloc’s climate goals, according to LE3 is a European Climate Think Tank E3 has appointed as an expert in energy transition, Isa Fischer. “[The Greens] have sort of gone on the offensive: focusing on getting real ambition on renewables deployment, and perhaps they haven’t used their energy on putting in negative criteria on gas and coal as much,” Fischer says. “And the ambition level there is great. I do think it’s a game changer for Europe.”
The phasing out of coal
Germany is the world’s fourth largest consumer of coal and has laggedIt is far behind its Western European neighborsDue to its huge size, it will be phased out. There are still plenty of reserves for lignite coalIt has relied on coal to maintain its energy independence for a long time. In the first quarter 2021, more than 25% of German power production came from coal
Germany’s coal exit will be accelerated by the new agreement. This is in addition to the date of 2038 set by the former government. “Ideally, this will be achieved by 2030,” it reads. Although campaigners felt frustrated at the inability to get a commitment from the government, experts on energy say that the majority of the stakeholders are committed. Economic situation worsening for coal in Europe—due to E.U. regulations and market shifts— makes it likely the 2030 date will be met.
This will increase pressure on Eastern European and Central European countries that are looking for earlier dates by accelerating the timeline regarding coal. Germany historically has had economic and political power over these countries. However, its message about coal has been obscured by domestic dependence. “A 2030 German coal exit leaves nowhere to hide for Poland, Czechia and Bulgaria,” climate non-profit Ember said in a statement. “Those left behind will face high electricity prices, an uncompetitive economy, and increasing pressure to act.”
Reducing dependence on natural gases
Germany, like much of the rest of Europe, is highly reliant on natural gas for heating, a sector which makes up 12% of the E.U.’s carbon dioxide emissions. Retrofitting buildings with renewable energy or using other renewable technology for heating is a difficult task.
This is what the agreement of coalition states “all newly installed heating systems must be operated with 65% renewable energy by 2025”, but it is unclear how fast buildings will be expected to replace their systems. The lack of an expiration date on natural gas usage and the existing plan for building hydrogen-ready gas power stations leaves gas as a part of electricity generation for many years.
Campaigners are hopeful that Germany’s government will raise its gas targets in 2019 as part of the promised new climate legislation. It also participates with the E.U., a long-awaited initiative. review of the subsidies and taxes on this fuel.
Climate at the heart of government
Some of the brightest lights in the coalition agreement come not from policies, but from the way that climate is positioned in the structure of the German government, with Green-leadership of “the traditionally important parts of German decision-making, like agriculture, foreign policy and the economy,” Fischer says.
AnInterview with TIME Baerbock declared that the priority of her in negotiations for a coalition was to make it work before the September election. overhauling the current “totally stupid” situation where “every ministry does what they want and the environment ministry does the environment.” As foreign minister, Baerbock has pledged to align trade and aid with climate goals, and to use Germany’s leadership of the G7 in 2022 to encourage other wealthy countries to accelerate their investment in clean energy infrastructure.
However, perhaps the most crucial ministry is still under Green control. The Greens lost the battle to appoint the finance minister—one of the fiercest of the coalition negotiations—to the Free Democrats, whose leader Christian Linder will now take the post.
Influential industry lobby organization On TuesdayThe next government would have to spend 860 billion Euros by 2030 in order to achieve its goal of reducing emissions. The Free Democrats, fiscal hawks may find it difficult to obtain this much. Giegold says, however, that Giegold is confident that other parties will be able to raise the funds necessary to fulfill their promises because German politics are consensus-based. “Normally in Germany, we are dull, gray, and boring,” he says. “And that means we stick to what we have agreed.”