Daniel Wetzel of the German online flagship daily Die Welt here tells readers the real reason why Chancellor Angela Merkel is sticking to the “senseless” and now impossible to reach CO2 emissions reduction target of 40% for Germany by 2020:
She can sit back and enjoy watching her coalition partner SPD ministers rip themselves apart trying to implement it.”
Already we are seeing a nasty collision developing between Merkel’s Economics Minister, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who calls the shutting down of coal power plnats an illusion, and Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, who insists that the coal power plants need to be shut down rapidly. Both ministers are SPD socialists.
Wetzel writes: “The traditional confrontation between the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Economics is taking on absurd traits.”
Now that both of these ministries are run by members of the coalition partner SPD, it is hardly possible for the SPD party to achieve any sense of unity – strife is inevitable. Merkel is skillfully implementing a “divide and conquer” strategy.
Wetzel writes there is virtually no chance Germany will reach the 40% reduction target, citing McKinsey:
Experts of McKinsey Consulting and other institutes have made calculations for the German government showing that the chances reaching these extremely ambitious reduction targets are close to zero.”
Die Welt says it has obtained a government list of 28 power plants that would need to be shut down in order to achieve the 40% target.
The problem is that closing these plants would mean the gutting out of some power companies, such as North Rhine Westphalia power giant RWE. North Rhine Westphalia is Germany’s most polpulated state and is currently governed by a coalition led by the SPD, who are in no hurry to anger the powerful trade unions. Read here.
Also a government move ordering the early closure of power plants would lead to lawsuits by power companies, who would demand billions in compensatory damages. Economics Minister Gabriel not only sees little technical and environmental sense in shutting down the power plants, but also thinks the political risks are too high. Die Welt writes:
Such an approach would also endanger the power supply and increase the prices of power for industry.
Thus in any case it remains open as to how the German government wants to reach its 40 percent CO2 reduction target. […] The 40% target as mere ‘political symbolism” or ‘a fetish’ is increasingly the word among ministry circles.”
Die Welt adds that the 40% reduction target was established in 2007, a time of ambitious aims. But since then the European Emissions Trading scheme has adopted new rules that apply to Europe, and not to individual countries. Also Germany abruptly mothballed a number of older nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima accident, thus radically altering the overall power and policy landscape.
Die Welt quotes Jürgen Hacker, Chairman of the German Association for Emissions Trading and Climate Protection (BVEK):
The national German policy no longer has any direct influence on the emissions of German plants, as they are subject to emissions trading. It is thus pure nonsense to want to include them in a national German climate protection target.”