— Energy meeting

“Natural gas belongs on the political agenda”

Experts attend GAZPROM Energy Meeting to discuss German government’s Climate Action Plan 2050.

 

The German federal government’s Climate Action Plan 2050 was the subject of an energy meeting held at Europa-Park on 15 July 2015 to coincide with GAZPROM Day. The plan aims to identify the actions needed to guarantee that Germany reaches climate neutrality by 2050. The package of measures produced after an extensive dialogue process by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building, and Nuclear Safety is currently in the process of being approved.

Attendees to the meeting included Professor Manfred Fischedick (Vice President of the Wuppertal Institute), Dr Tobias Bringmann (Managing Director of the Baden-Württemberg chapter of the Association of Public Utilities) and Professor Joachim Weimann (Chair of Economic Policy at Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg). The emphasis of the discussions was placed on the role of natural gas, and how the new measures could affect Germany’s economy.

 

Professor Manfred Fischedick began the proceedings by outlining the current state of climate policy. The German federal government’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 % by 2020 and by between 80 % and 95 % by 2050 – a goal that is to be achieved primarily by developing renewable energies and increasing energy efficiency. “The Paris climate agreement poses a major challenge for our society and requires a strong and decisive response from the government”, said Fischedick. While the use of alternative energies to generate electricity is growing fast, the use of renewables in the transport sector continues to be in the single digits, he said. “To achieve these climate goals, we must change more than just how we generate electricity: We also need to change how we generate heat and how our transport functions. Natural gas must play a key role, because it produces far fewer emissions than coal or oil.” As for energy efficiency, Professor Fischedick believes we are still “miles away from the government’s targets.”

 

Professor Joachim Weimann continued by claiming that Germany is not behaving like “a good European” due to its ambitious national climate targets. “Germany is keeping to its own plan, but individual nations going their own ways will contribute little to climate protection. If we want to achieve the climate goals, we need to set an international price for CO2 emissions”, said Weimann. A universal price for CO2 emissions would ensure that emissions are reduced where they would have the lowest cost. “Protecting the environment requires cost efficiency. We simply cannot afford to use unnecessarily expensive instruments to reduce CO2 emissions.”

 

Someone has to lead by example and start making the necessary changes at European level, said Dr Tobias Bringmann. Otherwise there could be a significant energy shortfall if the power stations are shut down in 2022 and the network is not further developed, warned Bringmann. He also criticized the uncontrolled expansion of renewable energies and called for greater consideration of natural gas. “Natural gas belongs on the political agenda. The proposal to ban the installation of gas heating in new buildings from 2030 is complete madness, and will lead to more power being generated from coal and increase Germany’s carbon footprint. The government will not reach a single climate goal by sticking to this strategy”, said Bringmann.

 
 

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