Enviros Freak Out As Germany Makes About-Face On Anti-Coal Campaign

Chris White | Energy Reporter

Environmentalists are bemoaning Germany’s decision to abandon a nearly impossibly lofty goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent within the next two years.

Germany’s new coalition agreed to drop plans to cut emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, according to a report Monday from Reuters. Some critics believe the move is an embarrassing development for Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was once dubbed the “climate chancellor.”

“It is disheartening to see developed parties lowering their ambition, particularly ones that had previously shown such strong leadership,” Maldives environment minister Thoriq Ibrahim, who chairs the alliance of small island states at UN climate talks, told reporters at Climate Change News.

Germany will instead aim to hit the 40 percent target sometime in the early 2020s, the report noted, adding that the reductions were due in large part to strong economic growth and a huge influx from immigrants. Stifling the lofty promise could cost Merkel, some experts say.

“Merkel will certainly come under pressure for that – she is connected to this 2020 target,”Brigitte Knopf, head of the Berlin-based Mercator Research Institute, told reporters shortly after the report was published. “In Germany, it will hurt her reputation on climate change.”

Negotiators in the coalition government are outlining a new plant that seeks to phase out coal, which includes creating a transition fund for mining communities and increasing green energy shares to 65 percent. But Knopf is not impressed.

“The principle problem is in Germany, the focus is very much on renewables, but not emissions reductions,” she said,noting the country’s over-reliance on green energy sources while dismissing other ways of tackling emission levels. “They have no idea how they want to phase out coal.”

Germany was forced to confront reality last year as wind and solar power units failed to keep up with the country’s energy needs. Officials recommissioned coal power plants to prevent roving blackouts and brownouts, according to a report in 2017 from IG Bergbauchemie Energie, a German trade union representing the country’s power sector.

Green energy approaches failed to meet Germany’s stated energy goals, even after spending over $1.1 trillion. The country’s “Energiewende” plan to boost wind and solar production to fight global warming hasn’t significantly reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and may have actually caused them to go up.

As a result of green energy’s rampant unreliability, Germany plans to cap the total amount of wind energy at 40 to 45 percent of national capacity, according to a report published by the German newspaper Berliner Zeitung.

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