Climate warning

George Kariuki

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Olaf Scholz

Climate warning

Germany Falls Back on Fossil Fuels

BERLIN—Hermann Ott was frustrated and angry. Germany’s recent decision to expand an open-pit coal mine in the small village of Lützerath was not the type of action he expected from the current government.
“I was sick,” he said. “I was really angry with the Green politicians.” Ott is a climate attorney and former member of parliament for the climate-minded Green Party. As a main player in Germany’s coalition government, the party has more power now than ever before.
Activists occupied the village for months to stop the mine expansion until police cleared them from the site on Jan. 11.
Ott was heartened by the intense protests. To him, it was emblematic of the unusually strong sense of civic responsibility in Germany that grew out of its history with the Holocaust and World War II.
“In the ‘60s, young people questioned their parents or grandparents: ‘Why hadn’t you done anything?’ I think there was a general feeling that if there’s something wrong, then you’ve got to speak up. You’ve got to be loud and make yourself heard.”
He and other activists are treating climate change the same way. As Germany ramps up fossil fuel infrastructure after Russia cut off gas pipelines, concerned members of the public aren’t letting the Green Party forget about the country’s climate commitments. The activists, lawyers and lobbyists involved in this fight are holding leaders accountable, even as other priorities pull the government in multiple directions.
The pipeline cut-off sent Germany and much of Europe into an energy crisis. Germany had a particularly strong dependence on Russian gas, with Russia providing 55 percent of gas imports in 2021.
But Lili Fuhr, a deputy director from the Center of International Environmental Law, disagreed with that characterization of the issue. “The current crisis is not really an energy crisis, it’s a fossil fuel crisis,” she said.
Two years ago, Germany pledged to achieve a 65 percent reduction in annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, as compared to 1990 levels. By 2045, the country promised to reach net zero emissions.
Germany has announced some policies to speed up its transition to renewable energy. Thanks to the Green Party’s historic success in Germany’s 2021 federal election, it now controls the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action, a vital agency for setting energy policy and monitoring the country’s climate goals.
“Last summer we redrafted the law for supporting renewable energies in the electricity sector,” said Katharina Grave, a spokesperson for the ministry. “We have a very ambitious target to get more electricity from renewable energy sources.”
The amendment last year to the country’s Renewable Energy Sources Act set this target at 80 percent of electricity demand by 2030. Other changes in the legislation included removing a renewable energy surcharge on consumers and stating that the conversion to renewable energy is in the overriding public interest.
Additionally, in January the ministry submitted a bill to Germany’s parliament that would speed up licensing for onshore and offshore wind farms.
The bill builds off a plan announced last year requiring Germany’s states to make at least 2 percent of their territory available for wind power infrastructure. “We have put in deadlines to be fulfilled,” Grave said. “If these deadlines are not fulfilled, then the regional state loses its power to decide for itself.”
The Greens also negotiated to halt Germany’s use of coal by 2030, eight years earlier than previously planned. However, the deal controversially included approval of the Lützerath mine expansion.
Last year, while the German government was taking these steps to encourage renewable energy, it increased the country’s reliance on fossil fuels to cope with the loss of Russian gas.

As Germany Falls Back on Fossil Fuels, Activists Demand Adherence to Its Ambitious Climate Goals - Inside Climate News

BERLIN—Hermann Ott was frustrated and angry. Germany’s recent decision to expand an open-pit coal mine in the small village of Lützerath was not the type of action he expected from the current government.  “I was sick,” he said. “I was really angry with the Green politicians.” Ott is a climate attorney and former member of […]

Despite agreeing to end coal use earlier, the government decided to delay the retirement of certain coal power plants. In some cases, it even agreed to bring deactivated plants back online.
The government also approved the leases of five temporary liquified natural gas, or LNG, terminals, and was in talks to build at least one permanent, on-land terminal.
The first terminal is already in operation near the Wadden Sea, a UNESCO World Heritage site on Germany’s North Sea coast that plays a critical role in the conservation of migratory waterbirds.
The terminals receive compressed, liquified natural gas shipped from overseas and return it to usable vapor. They represent a rapid and significant new investment in fossil fuel infrastructure—a move that is inconsistent with Germany’s emissions reduction targets, according to activists, scientists and research analysts.
Natural gas, which is primarily methane, is highly polluting. New academic literature suggests it is just as harmful as other fossil fuels, even though some label it a so-called bridge fuel. It emits less carbon than coal when burned to make electricity, but methane, which traps about 80 times more heat than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, frequently leaks from wellheads, pipelines and even household use.
The Wadden Sea area is home to impressive mud flats that stretch nearly a mile from the shoreline before reaching the water. Beneath the muck is a crucial ecosystem of worms and mussels that fuels the migration of 10-12 million birds every year.
The new LNG facility is mere meters from the protected area’s boundary and could endanger the habitat, according to an official guide from Germany’s national park service.

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  • Evangeline Wanjiru

    4 w

    Truly saddening

    • Elizabeth Gathigia

      4 w

      Very disappointing!

      • rosebellendiritu

        4 w


        • Mc Kaka

          4 w

          What a shame!

          • Edwin wangombe

            4 w

            German should try to go back to it's glorious days

          • Joseph Githinji

            4 w

            Sad news indeed.

          • Munene Mugambi

            4 w

            Not an ideal situation to be in

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