Environment minister Svenja Schulze and other members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition said they plan to raise the ambition in Germany’s climate legislation, which is only possible with a large increase in the country’s renewable energy targets.
The move comes after Germany’s constitutional court on Thursday ruled that Schulze’s 2019 climate law is inadequate as it violates the freedoms of younger generations by pushing the bulk of emission reductions needed under the Paris climate agreement post-2030.
Also, the recent intention to increase the EU’s emission reduction target to 55% by 2030 is only possible if the economic block's largest member also sharpens its own emission cut target. The government ahead of September general elections is under intense pressure from the Green Party opposition, which demands much more stringent climate policies and an end to coal and lignite already in 2030, instead of 2038.
The Greens are leading in recent opinion polls with some 25-28% of voting intentions, ahead of Merkel’s conservatives of the CDU/CSU that currently could only count on 22-24% of votes, and Schulze’s Social Democrats (SPD) which can hope for 13-15% of votes.
The Greens recently for the first time ever put forward an own candidate for Chancellor – Annalena Baerbock – who if voting intentions continue to favour the party after the elections may even be able to choose between a coalition with the CDU/CSU or a three-way pact with the SPD and the radical Left party.
Schulze in a reaction to the constitutional court ruling stressed that she had tried to push through interim climate targets also for the 2030’s, but was stopped short by the larger CDU/CSU coalition partner.
“The constitutional court gives the legislature a clear mandate to create clear legal requirements for the path to climate neutrality beyond 2030,” Schulze said.
“To avoid losing any time, I will be presenting the key points for a climate protection law that has been amended in this sense and creates long-term planning security.”
It wasn’t immediately clear, whether Schulze only plans to change the post-2030 aspects of the climate law or also will try to convince the CDU/CSU to accept steeper targets already for this decade.
Any change in legislation has to be approved by June 25, the last session of the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament, before it enters its summer recess and the hot phase of the election campaign begins.
Germany’s renewable energy federation BEE stressed that in the wake of the higher EU emission target, Germany must also amend its Renewable Energies Act (EEG) and adopt more ambitious wind and solar expansion targets already for 2030.
“Without unleashing renewable energies, the Climate Protection Act will remain without substance. Because renewables are the key to climate protection,” BEE president Simone Peter said.
According to BEE calculations, Germany’s share of renewable energies in total gross energy consumption must rise from 17% in 2019 to 44% in 2030 if the country were to raise its 2030 emission reduction target to 65% (from 55% currently envisaged).
The higher climate target would require renewables to increase their share in the country’s power mix to 77% by 2030, from about 50% now.
For that, some 20GW of solar power would need to be installed per year for the remainder of this decade, instead of the 5GW added last year. Some 8GW of onshore wind would need to be added instead of the moderate 1.4GW last year, the BEE reckons.
Such steep increases in renewables additions would require an enormous effort to improve permitting and the identification of new areas for onshore wind, both problems which economics and energy minister Peter Altmaier from the CDU has not been able to resolve in the past two years.
Also, the CDU/CSU’s candidate for Chancellor, North-Rhine Westphalia state premier Armin Laschet, has strong links to the mining lobby and in the past has blocked too ambitious climate targets, and under pressure from (mostly) fossil utilities such as RWE has made sure Germany would not exit coal and lignite too soon.