How to initiate an effective debate
We need to objectify the debate
Since the coalition committee's decision on the 2030 climate protection program, the waves have been high. Hardly any other topic arouses more emotions than climate protection.
That is also good and correct, because after all it is about the foundations of life on our planet.
However, I firmly believe that we now need to make the debate more objective. Because the agreement on the climate protection package is not the end, but the basis for an ecological restructuring of our society.
And it's about nothing less. It could have been more ambitious for the SPD, but it's a good start for the climate.
A climate protection law is long overdue. The SPD presented the first legislative proposal for this back in 2010. It is time for the German Bundestag to deliberate and pass the Climate Protection Act intensively over the next few weeks.
It will also be about achieving the binding climate protection goals of the European Union for Germany in the areas of transport, buildings, trade, services, waste, agriculture and land use.
It is embarrassing that Germany misses its targets in these sectors and has to buy pollution rights from other EU countries. As a next consequence, there is even a threat of EU infringement proceedings.
The studied biologist and SPD politician Klaus Mindrup has been a member of the Bundestag since 2013 and a member of the committees for building and for the environment. He advocates a rapid, decentralized, citizen-friendly and fair energy transition.
We therefore urgently need a good control mechanism, as is now to be anchored in the Climate Protection Act. In this way, necessary corrective measures can be initiated if there is a risk of missing the target.
It is also good that the expansion cap for photovoltaics is finally falling and that the 65 percent target for the expansion of renewable energies in the electricity sector, which the SPD fought hard for in the coalition negotiations, was set again.
Falling power consumption?
As a reminder: the federal government's energy concept had previously assumed 50 percent. The crucial and exciting question, however, is: 65 percent of what?
So it's about future electricity consumption.
The German Renewable Energy Association (BEE) has published a scenario calculation for this. Despite very ambitious assumptions regarding the efficiency potential by 2030, the BEE comes to the clear conclusion that the total electricity demand will increase from 600 billion kilowatt hours today to 740 billion kilowatt hours.
The big drivers here are electromobility with 68 billion kilowatt hours, heat pumps with 33 billion and Power-to-X applications with 105 billion kilowatt hours.
In contrast, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is sticking to a completely unrealistic scenario of falling electricity consumption, which will consequently lead to the expansion requirement for renewable energies and storage systems being set far too low. This endangers both climate protection and Germany as an industrial location.
The struggle of parts of the CDU and the CSU against wind power on land can mainly be explained by the fact that they believe in these flawed assumptions.
The paradox of the situation is that the CDU and CSU always emphasize how important the market is. In contrast, when it comes to the crucial future technology of wind energy, they unpack regulatory law.
The answer to the criticism of the expansion of wind energy can only be the demand for a broad involvement of citizens in the regions, among other things through the participation of the local communities in the generated income as agreed in the climate cabinet.
Because if the citizens can use the local public transport in their community more cheaply, the kindergartens become free of charge or the school can be renovated, they are more likely to accept wind power.
The EU allows exceptions to tenders
From my point of view, however, it must also mean that Germany uses the EU-wide regulations for exceptions to tenders.
The EU allows that no tenders are necessary for up to six wind turbines with three megawatts.
The former Green State Secretary Rainer Baake, a clear opponent of citizen energy and largely responsible for the fact that this exception was not used, has long been retired. It is therefore incomprehensible why Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier does not act here.
Of course, the SPD does not consider blanket distance rules to be necessary. I therefore welcome the criticism from numerous federal states with CDU government participation in the compromise forced by parts of the CDU and the CSU.
It is now a matter of ensuring in the legislative process that the sensible and necessary expansion target of 35,000 plants with a nominal output of 200,000 megawatts on two percent of the country's area by 2050 is not endangered.
It is also important that ongoing legal planning procedures for the expansion of wind energy, such as in Schleswig-Holstein, can be brought to a conclusion.
No regulations for the height of wind turbines
It is therefore good that the 1,000 meters mentioned in the climate protection package should not become a blanket distance rule that applies everywhere in Germany, but that the states and municipalities can deviate downwards and the local authorities even receive incentives for this.
It is to be welcomed that - unlike in Bavaria and in the coalition agreement of Schleswig-Holstein - no regulations have been made that relate to the height of the wind turbines. Modern wind turbines today have a hub height of almost 200 meters plus blades around 70 meters long.
They have the advantage of delivering higher and more consistent yields. In addition, the conflict with species protection is significantly reduced, since hunting and thereby distracted birds and bats usually hunt below the lower apex.
The completely nonsensical 10-H regulation in Bavaria (in short: wind turbines must have a minimum distance of ten times their height from residential buildings) could not be overcome because the current state government adheres to it.
Only a change of government in Bavaria, a separate electricity price zone or an uprising in the Bavarian electricity-intensive industry can trigger the necessary change.
Increased pressure from environmental associations on the real blockers would also make sense, who not only prevent wind turbines in Bavaria, but also send completely outdated diesel trains onto the route. It's not modern and ecological.
It is still necessary for Germany to finally and quickly implement the new EU rules for decentralized citizens' energy. This not only applies to tenant electricity, but also to the commercial economy. The future belongs to the prosumers, also in producer groups.
Germany has until the end of 2020 to implement the new rules in its own law, but it should go faster for the economy and the environment. The decision of the Climate Cabinet to combine serial renovations with the generation of renewable electricity, in this case photovoltaics, points in the right direction.
The hydrogen strategy agreed in the Climate Cabinet only makes sense with a clear expansion path for renewable energies. We need hydrogen as long-term storage, in industry as well as in transport and in buildings as a climate-friendly molecular alternative to fossil fuels.
Despite the optimization and expansion of the power grids, we need decentralized hydrogen generation at the network nodes. The sooner Germany says goodbye to the illusion of a "copper plate" to be created, the better. This is simply not useful and also not affordable.
It's not just about the CO2-Price at
That brings me to the question of CO2-Pricing. Here, too, the most important questions are not asked: How does Germany support its citizens in realizing climate-friendly alternatives?
Tax incentives for electric vehicles are certainly the right thing to do. But where does the electricity come from?
We have to largely exempt the electricity we produce ourselves, which is used for e-mobility, from taxes and finally abolish the bureaucratic and tax blockages for decentralized electricity generation and storage. This would significantly increase the acceptance of climate protection, especially in rural areas, because it would make mobility climate-friendly and affordable.
This also applies to the use of heat pumps, which must be connected to photovoltaics and storage if possible. So it's not just about the CO2-Price on, but on the cost and "convenience" of the alternatives.
In any case, the pricing of CO2 too much of a role in the debate. What would an effective CO2-Price that has a steering effect? And what consequences would it have for those who cannot buy a new car or a new heater straight away?
I find it more expedient if we create incentives for meaningful investments over the next few years and thus directly help citizens to behave in a climate-friendly manner.
This can also be illustrated with another example: It does not make sense to scrap relatively new fossil burners before their lifespan is up. Because a lot of energy was also expended in their production.
In addition to more environmentally friendly driving behavior, people who depend on a car can do little to protect the climate if there is no good alternative in local public transport.
It is therefore necessary to promote the proportion of renewable components in gasoline and diesel. However, this must not be about biomass because its potential is limited.
So it is about fuels that are produced indirectly from renewable electricity and directly from hydrogen. The decisive question for the market ramp-up is how these are taxed. A mere exemption from the future CO2- Tax is certainly not enough here.
Not ten, but 250 euros
Converted to the CO2-Emissions, the taxation of gasoline is currently around 240 euros per ton. This tax will probably have to be completely waived for electricity-based fuels, so the price difference to the environmentally friendly alternative is not ten euros per tonne of CO2, but 250 euros. Then, however, the question still remains to be clarified how the road infrastructure is to be financed.
The discussion has only just begun. The new EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has announced that she wants to increase the EU's climate protection target for 2030 from 40 percent to 50 to 55 percent in 2030.
For Germany, this would mean an increase in the effort-sharing targets from 38 percent to 48 percent.
So there is still a lot to be done. And it is good if we then have a climate protection law with clear mechanisms that help us to quickly initiate the appropriate measures.
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