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samedi 6 décembre 2014

Germany faces the dilemma of carbon emission reductions

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"Les Échos" December, 3rd
THIBAUT MADELIN / CORRESPONDeNT in BERLIN 
·       Description: e secteur énergétique économiser 22 millions tonnes CO2 supplémentaires, 71 millions déjà prévues d’ici 2020.
The energy sector shall save additional 22 million tons of carbon dioxide, to be added to the 71 million ones scheduled up to 2020. Rainer UNKEL/REA

The government keeps its targets, but gives up the idea to close coal power plants.
How is it possible to keep its credibility about its awareness on climate change without weakening its energy sector, already facing a structural crisis? That’s the dilemma faced by the German government, which unveiled a list of projects ultimately dedicated to save its targets of carbon dioxide emission reductions Wednesday.
The main part of the reductions (namely 25 to 30 million tons) shall come from energy efficiency measures, for instance tax subsidies dedicated to real estate park renovation. The transport sector shall reduce its carbon emissions from seven to ten million tons, particularly through a toll increase for most polluting trucks. Drivers will thus been given some trainings to use less fuel and agriculture shall play a role by using less fertilizers.


Besides these sectors, it’s the energy field whose contribution will be the most questionable. According to reduction framework, this sector shall save additional 22 million tons of carbon, to be added to the targeted 71 million up to 2020 previously. In 2013, the energy field emitted 377 million tons of carbon dioxide.
Germany experienced an increase of its greenhouse gas emissions during 2012 and 2013, even if the country intended to set the example. Growing coal power plants use accounts for the main part of this point, supplying 45% of the country’s power generation. Without any new step, the country won’t reach its 40% reduction target from 1990 to 2020. So Angela Merkel is facing a credibility problem, as she likes to be presented as the “climate chancellor”. “ I don’t believe that Germany may give up its targets”,  Sigmar Gabriel said, as  Economy and Energy Minister.
Thousand job losses since five years
What a thorny perspective. After considering a possible close of coal power plants, the government gave that idea up (see “ Les Échos” dated October, 10th), in order to avoid the weakening of a sector facing a sharp drop of power price. Now it counts on the voluntary steps taken by operators. “ I don’t care to know how a company will contribute to the 22 million tons, Sigmar Gabriel said Wednesday. In which plant, following which efficiency measures, by reducing the production of one plant and by increasing the production of one other? That’s corporate decisions.”
Nevertheless, the point shall be raised in the wake of the law to be passed in 2016 about the new frame of the power market. Power majors claim for an additional fee for their conventional power plants. Sigmar Gabriel is concerned that this claim would lead to new price increases, but that’s a touchy issue for him. In fact, E.ON, RWE or EnBW have suppressed thousand jobs since five years.
Former Environment Minister, Sigmar Gabriel focuses on employment as a priority. As he has been asked to be the SPD candidate to the chancellery in 2017, he listens carefully to the trade-unions campaign and launching a petition claiming for “an energetic change without any risk for employment and without any political sharp price increases”.