Fritz Vorholt at Germany’s center-left national weekly Die Zeit here reports in a commentary that the country is “fouling up its Energiewende” (shift to renewable energies) and writes that experts say the country will not reach its stated CO2 emissions reductions target. He calls this situation “embarrassing”.
Don’t look too closely
Lately there have been a number of reports stating that Germany’s Energiewende has become more window dressing and grandstanding than substance. Vorholt brings up an important point, warning that if Germany fails at its man-on-the-moon project Energiewende, the country even risks taking the wind out of the sails of the global green energy movement. After all if technology savvy Germany cannot do it, then other countries won’t bother trying. So far it does not look good. Germany’s electricity rates have skyrocketed, CO2 emissions however have remained stubbornly high and Germany’s power grid is now far more unstable and at risk of blackouts. Who wants to copy that?
In view of the real problems with the conversion of the energy supply system, one has to hope that foreign countries don’t look too closely. Namely a close look could could be sobering.”
Reaching targets looks unrealistic
At the current rate, Germany will never meet its 2020 target of reducing CO2, Vorholt reports, writing that the country would have to triple its current rate of emissions reductions in order for it to reach the 2020 target of a 40% reduction over 1990 levels. He cites a statement issued by a government appointed commission, which issued a 19-page report that sees the Energiewende has “many deficits” and that there are “comprehensive necessities to act“. Die green-leaning Zeit adds:
Even the high-ranking government advisors are skeptical. The central target of reducing CO2 emmissions by 40 percent by 2020 with respect to 1990 levels is ‘substantially at risk’.”
Clearly, Germany reaching the set targets is very much in serious doubt.
One factor that does not get mentioned in the Die Zeit piece is the millions of refugees who are expected to arrive in Germany over the coming years, and so further increase the demand for power and energy.
Global climate will be decided in China and India
Another obstacle to meeting the 2020 40% reduction target comes from Germany’s socialist SPD party: Hannelore Kraft, the Prime Minister of Germany’s most populated and industrial state of North Rhine Westphalia, a region that is concentrated with heavy industries and trade unions. The influential socialist politician has sharply criticized the Federal Ministry of Environment’s plans for a rapid shut-down of the country’s coal-fired power plants, many of which are located in her state, slated to take place over the next 20 years.
German public radio Deutschlandfunk reports here:
The SPD politician says this is a go-it-alone by Hendricks [Federal Minister of Environment] and is neither the position of the SPD in North Rhine Westphalia, nor of the SPD at the national level.”
Coal miners, steel workers and power plant employees represented by powerful trade unions aren’t about to willingly trade in their high paying industrial jobs in exchange for a reduction of global CO2 emissions by a few ten thousandths of a percent. Deutschlandfunk adds:
The IG BCE mining union spoke of symbolic actions. Not in Germany, but in other countries, such as China or India, will the global climate be decided.”
In summary, not only the technical obstacles are appearing insurmountable, but also the political ones as well. Germany of course will sign on to ambitious reductions in CO2 emissions in Paris and try to project an image of leadership. That is easy. Doing it, however, will be a completely different story.